Jane, the mother of seven-year-old Samantha, was in the next room when she heard a horrible voice coming from the smartphone her daughter was playing with. She came running into the room as the voice continued: “You look afraid, is it this knife in my hands? Making you a little nervous? This knife is going to improve your look when it’s sticking right out of you.”
As it turned out, Samantha had downloaded some games from Google Play, and one of them was a spoof app in which the child received “calls” from characters in the popular cartoon Blaze and the Monster Machines (which is rated for ages 3+). But instead of kind-hearted characters telling children about science, the app played a recording of the voice of Slappy, the villain of R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps horror series (the movie based on the books had a PG/12+ rating).