October 2016

CCFC to Federal Trade Commission: Stop “influencer” marketing targeting kids on YouTube; AAP sets new limits for childhood screen time; New coalition urges National Park Service to say NO to alcohol partnerships; Canadian bill moves to ban kid-targeted food marketing; Recommended reading

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In this issue:

  • CCFC to Federal Trade Commission: Stop “influencer” marketing targeting kids on YouTube
  • AAP sets new limits for childhood screen time
  • New coalition urges National Park Service to say NO to alcohol partnerships
  • Canadian bill moves to ban kid-targeted food marketing
  • Recommended reading

CCFC to Federal Trade Commission: Stop “influencer” marketing targeting kids on YouTube

On October 21, CCFC, the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD), and Public Citizen filed a complaint with the FTC, charging Google and its partners with targeting children with “influencer” videos on YouTube. 

On popular YouTube channels like EvanTubeHD, Baby Ariel, Meghan McCarthy, and Bratayley, child stars unbox toys, play games, and enthusiastically sample junk food. Children viewing these videos have no idea these adorable “friends” are really stealth marketers who have been compensated by the companies whose products are promoted. 

These ads take unfair advantage of kids’ developmental vulnerabilities, so we called on the FTC to release policy guidance that explicitly says using influencers to target children is an unfair and deceptive practice. “Host selling,” the old-school equivalent of influencer marketing, is not allowed on children’s television, and we believe children deserve protections from unfair marketing no matter what screen they’re watching. 

You can read more about our complaint in the Washington Post and Bloomberg News. It is the latest in a number of filings by CCFC and CDD that document the harmful child-directed commercialism on YouTube and YouTube Kids.

AAP sets new limits for childhood screen time

On October 21, the American Academy of Pediatrics released its policy statement Media and Young Minds, reiterating its long-held position that babies and toddlers need real-world experiences with caring adults, rather than screen-based activities, for healthy development. CCFC endorses the new statement for its clear, evidence-based, and practical recommendations for families and practitioners.

The statement recommends no screen time for babies until at least 18 months, except for video chats with family. For children 2 to 5 years old, the Academy specifies just 1 hour or less of screen time per day, reduced from 1-2 hours in prior recommendations. Parents are instructed to co-view—watch, play, and reteach—screen content with their children. The AAP also recommends no screens at meals, and that screens be removed from bedrooms at least one hour before bedtime.

The statement also includes strong recommendations for the media industry, urging app markers to “cease making apps for children younger than 18 months until evidence of benefit is demonstrated.” The AAP also calls advertising in apps for kids five and under “unethical.” We are glad to see the AAP’s support for our mission of reducing commercialism and harmful marketing to children.

New coalition urges National Park Service to say NO to alcohol partnerships

In our continuing effort to protect our national parks from commercialization, CCFC and Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert organized 66 public health advocacy groups to send a letter to the National Park Service (NPS), asking the NPS not to partner with alcohol brands or display alcohol logos in parks. Allowing alcohol branding in parks could encourage underage drinking and damage the reputation of national parks as safe spaces for children and families.

The letter was part of a broader effort to urge the NPS to abandon plans to permit corporate sponsorships, naming rights, and branding in national parks. More than 215,000 people have signed petitions hosted by CCFC, Public Citizen’s Commercial Alert, and CREDO Action demanding that the NPS keep our parks free of ads and logos. If you have yet to sign our petition, you can add your name here.

Canadian bill moves to ban kid-targeted food marketing

In a sign of the growing momentum to protect children from commercialism, a bill proposed by Canadian Senator Nancy Greene Raine would ban all food marketing directed at children. The bill recognizes that it is wrong to use manipulative tactics to target children regardless of the nutritional content of the food being marketed. We applaud Senator Greene Raine for proposing to ban not only junk food ads, but ALL food ads directed at kids, just like the successful law already existing in Quebec.  

We are communicating with public health advocates in Canada as this legislation is being considered, and will advocate for protecting Canadian children from unfair food marketing. In the meantime, you can read more about the Senator’s bill in her Toronto Star op-ed.

Recommended reading