How Can Companies Protect Kids from Online Marketing?

With the explosion of cell phones, the internet, tablets, and social media across the globe in every household, it has become critical to protect kids from the web of online marketing. Companies view their target audience only in terms of numbers and sales. Kids as well as adults are nothing more than dumping grounds for their produced goods. Companies not only collect unlimited data regarding the kids and influence their moods, but also use those pain points to sell the products. These products might be useful, but kids are not believed to be in a position to decide what is good for them and what is not.

Hence, it has become critical for not only the parents but also the government to protect the kids from the web of online marketing. In this article, we will be diving deeply into how companies are exploiting kids, how online marketing is negatively impacting kids and some of the measures around the world taken by the government to protect kids from online marketing.

The Web of Online Marketing and Kids

Companies have long understood that kids are an attractive market segment for them. Though they do not have the financial capability to make purchase-related decisions, they play a huge role in initiating the purchase as well as influencing the purchase decision. Due to the ever-increasing stress and the need to be in many places at the same time, most parents just want their kids to not start crying and start the web of shame, stress, and irritation, and hence they will purchase whatever the kids demand. Kids are also sensitive and do not intellectually develop, so do not let them harness any negative emotion, parents often buy unnecessary goods for the kids.

Companies Have Found two Ways to get Kids to Buy Into Things

  • Show kids advertisements with high-powered appeal and lovable animated characters.

  • Whenever in doubt regarding packaged food manufacturing, the cardinal rule suggests adding sugar. Something followed by many fast food outlets like Burger King, McDonald’s, and others.

Along with this, there is also the issue of data privacy. Companies are collecting data on kids regarding their demographics, location, pictures, and others and using it to target them better. This also leads to the exploitation of the kids. It was found out that only one out of the five parents has parental control over their kid’s cell phones, and hence they are on their own in this huge market.

Many preschoolers and child-care facilities also received sponsorship from big brands. For example, art easels, gerbil cages, and blocks were used, and in lieu of that, pre-schools or childcare facilities were holding activities like Care Bear worksheets, Pizza Hut reading programs, and Nickelodeon magazines. Here the problem was that the children started to think of the brand as healthy and someone who cared for them, which was not the case.

Initiatives by the Government, COPPA, and Brands to Protect kids From Marketing

Some of the worthy initiatives taken by the company to protect the kids are −

  • Law by the Mexican Government − Mexico is the 5th country that stands high in terms of obesity rate. More than 31.4% of the kids are obese in the state of Mexico. The government understood the implications that it would have and the high bills for medical and healthcare. Hence, the company banned all food-related companies from advertising their products on national television. The move was a harsh one and called for a lot of criticism from the companies, but it was good for the public in Mexico. A country cannot develop with its citizens being obese and, at the same time, with a generation that relives it too late regarding what is good for them.

  • COPPA Act and Brands − The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was designed to better the lives of children and protect them from the web of online marketing. It came with a list of restrictions regarding the collection of data by companies regarding children under 13. In July 2000, it came up with a law that made it illegal for companies to collect information from children. The information was related to contact details as well as other sensitive information. It turns out that every website must include a privacy policy where it has to seek consent from the parents regarding the collection of information from the kid's devices. This information includes photos, videos, audio files, location, and data generated online. Many big companies that did not take the law seriously were fined hugely. Sony B.G.

  • Entertainment agreed to pay $1 million as a fine or settlement with the FCT after being charged with inappropriately collecting data from 30000 children under 13 on its websites. Companies like Hershey Food and Mrs. Field Cookies were also fined by the law regarding the online data collection of kids. Facebook, the well-known brand, has also received a lot of criticism for allowing kids under the age of 12 to join its social media site.

  • Brands that care about kids − Colgate, as a company, understands that kids do not like self-care time. For them, brushing their teeth is a task that should be avoided, and hence they came up with various videos as well as ads in which their beloved fictional characters showcased the importance as well as the right way to clean their teeth. The brand has received a lot of applause for the initiative and has become a regular purchase. McDonald's as a brand also came up with apples as a dessert for the kid's meal, which was hugely respected and accepted by the parents.

Companies have to understand that kids are not their potential dumping grounds but the future citizens of the globe. They should not be exploiting them, as well as giving regard to their data privacy. Brands that care about their customers are the only ones that survive in the market. Today, the competition between companies is not huge but unfathomable, and it is going to expand day by day. The only way to stay relevant in the market is by building a relationship with the customer. Companies should care about the kids, and parents will care about the company. It is always the policy that I scratch your back if you scratch mine.

Updated on: 11-May-2023


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