Web of Deception

In early April a press conference was called by the Center for Media Education -- media as in TV, newspapers, and other such mass-media. The press conference was called for the release and distribution of their special report Web of Deception: Threats to Children from Online Marketing.

The report talks about how many companies are seamlessly integrating advertising into content on the net, how these companies are tracking individual children by asking kids (preschoolers to teens) to fill out surveys for which they get a chance to win something attractive like a Sony walkman or a trip to Disney for them and their family. Some of these companies also microtarget these children with e-mail advertising specific products that the kids will be enticed to buy (or at least the advertiser hopes so!).

Recommendations (summary) included in the report are as follows:

  1. Personal information (including clickstream data) should not be collected from children, nor should children's personal information be sold.

  2. Advertising and promotions targeted at children should be clearly labeled and separated from content.

  3. Children's content areas should not be directly liked to advertising sites.

  4. There should be no direct interaction between children and product spokescharacters.

  5. There should be no online microtargeting of children, and no direct-response marketing.
Other organizations that appeared at the press conference in support of these recommendations included the National PTA, the Consumer Federation of America, the American Psychological Association, and the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

If you would like a copy of the report, it can be purchased for $25 by contacting the Center for Media Education, 1511 K Street, NW, Suite #518, Washington, DC 20005, 202-628-2620, Fax 202-628-2554.

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Last updated 2013/11/30.

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