Parents Already Have A Lot To Worry About

The Lempert Report
December 21, 2016

Is hidden digital advertising and marketing to your kids promoting fatty, sugary and salty foods?

Parents have a lot to worry about. Cyber bullying, online predators, and violence, are all top of mind for most parents, but the World Health Organization wants to add yet another major issue to parents’ lists: hidden digital advertising and marketing promoting fatty, sugary and salty foods. 

Reuters reports that children in Europe are bombarded by these messages that are damaging their health and adding to the region's obesity problem. The W.H.O. researchers are calling for policy makers to do more to protect children from junk food advertising messages on networking sites, games - known as "advergames" - and other social media. 

Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO's regional director for Europe issued a statement: "Our governments have given the prevention of childhood obesity the highest political priority, (yet) we consistently find that children – our most vulnerable group – are exposed to countless numbers of hidden digital marketing techniques promoting foods high in fat, sugar and salt." 

She goes on to say that in the absence of effective regulation of digital media in many countries, children are increasingly exposed to persuasive, individually tailored marketing techniques that parents may underestimate, or be unaware of. Topline is that the parents don’t even see these ads. 

The WHO Europe report said that since there is little effective regulation or control over of digital marketing, children are often exposed to powerful and targeted online marketing via digital platforms that collect personal data.

Digital marketing can engage children in emotional, entertaining experiences and encourage them to share these experiences with their friends, it said, describing this as "a dubious cocktail when used to promote unhealthy foods".