Are ‘Pro-Smoking’ Smartphone Apps Targeting Your Kids?Meredith Carroll
Just when you thought that maybe, just maybe, you had a handle on your kids’ media use (monitoring their Facebook and Instagram accounts and checking their text messages, for instance), comes news that there are apps with pro-smoking messages that are directly targeting kids.
According to Mother Nature Network, a study published in the journal Tobacco Control found 42 pro-smoking apps in Google’s Android Market and 65 in the Apple App Store that were mostly free, and “appealed to kids by using cartoons and games,” with some including “image of specific cigarette brands.”
Smoking is depicted as a cool pastime as it’s shown in the aforementioned kids’ games, and in some cases, the “game” is a smoking simulator. According to the Mother Nature Network:
In one example – the game “Puff Puff Pass” asks users to click on the game’s cartoon characters to make them smoke and pass the cigarette to other characters. Other apps allow users to simulate smoking by holding the phone near the mouth and using the microphone to virtually smoke or set cigarette brands or images as “wallpaper” for their phone.
According to the study’s authors, the games could “easily attract” kids because they contain high-quality graphics and because they’re strategically placed in the Games and Entertainment sections of the app stores.
The study was conducted by the University of Sydney earlier this year.