Focus Education touted that Jungle Raiders, its child-directed computer game, can improve children’s focus, memory, attention, behavior, and school performance, even for kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
But a proposed consent order with the Federal Trade Commission will put an end to the company’s claims that the agency alleged were unsubstantiated and lacked scientific proof.
The Texas-based company and its officers generated sales of about $4.5 million for the game, which was sold as part of the ifocus System via infomercials and Web site advertising for $214.75 plus tax. The ads claimed that Jungle Raiders had “scientifically proven memory and attention brain training exercises, designed to improve focus, concentration and memory,” and could permanently give children “the ability to focus, complete school work, homework, and to stay on task.”
Commercials featured children stating they got “better grades” and “a lot more 100 percents,” and parents, teachers, and a child psychiatrist who said the game improved the school performance and behavior of children.
Pursuant to the proposed consent order, the defendants would be prohibited from making the challenged claims or other claims for substantially similar products unless competent and reliable scientific evidence was provided. The order would also ban unsubstantiated claims about the benefits, performance, or the efficacy of products or services related to improved cognitive abilities, behavior, or academic performance, or that can treat or reduce symptoms of cognitive disorders like ADHD.
Misrepresentations about the results of tests, studies, or research, or that the benefits of a cognitive improvement product are scientifically proven, are also prohibited under the order.
The FTC will accept comments on the proposed deal until February 20.
To read the complaint and consent order in In the Matter of Focus Education, click here.
Why it matters: “This case is the most recent example of the FTC’s efforts to ensure that advertisements for cognitive products, especially those marketed for children, are true and supported by evidence,” Jessica Rich, director of the agency’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said in a press release about the case. “Many parents are interested in products that can improve their children’s focus, behavior, and grades, but companies must back up their brain training claims with reliable science.”