Kids bombarded with inappropriate online adverts

December 7th, 2007 - 4:46 pm ICT by admin  

London, Dec 7 (ANI): Children surfing their favourite websites are being exposed to a stream of adverts, some of which are inappropriate, a new report says.

The study found that one-quarter of adverts on websites popular with seven to 16 year olds were aimed at adults, including for gambling and dating services, and contained inappropriate content.

Credit cards, online dating agencies, some with pictures of topless women, and online gambling emerged outstandingly on some sites that were also accessed by older people.

The report looked at the commercial pressures that children were exposed to on their favourite sites, including online gaming forums such as Fingertime and Mousebreaker, plus the social networks Bebo and MySpace.

The National Consumer Council, which commissioned the research, called for better regulation on website advertising to protect young users, particularly over privacy and data protection.

Most parents would be shocked and surprised by the hidden persuasion techniques exercised by the majority of internet sites, the Telegraph quoted Ed Mayo, the NCC’s chief executive, as saying.

The report, Fair Game? was based on analysis of a list of 40 websites most popular with a sample of more than 500 children aged nine to 13 taken from previous research. Researchers who looked at just two web pages for each of the 40 sites found 211 marketing messages.

Most of these were selling or promoting something, or instilling “brand buzz”, and 95 percent of the websites contained some sort of commercial activity, ranging from marketing and advertising to selling goods and services.

The majority of websites and adverts requested some personal data from users, but few had privacy policies that children could understand.

Only CBeebies and CBBC, two BBC websites, remained free from criticism.

However, the study was rejected as out of date by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), because it did not take into account new rules on regulating and monitoring gambling advertising introduced in September.

“Now that the new rules for gambling advertising are in place, proactive monitoring of gambling advertisements online is routinely undertaken and only permitted advertisers can advertise in the UK,” ASA said in a statement. (ANI)

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