November 23rd 2020, Movendi International 

A new report by VicHealth, the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) and the Obesity Policy Coalition (OPC) provides evidence for the pervasive harmful marketing targeting children in Australia.

Evidence shows that exposure to unhealthy marketing can have long-term consequences on children.

The report highlights that:

  • During the COVID-19 pandemic, one in two Australian children increased their time on screens and digital media for entertainment (online gaming, social media and watching video content), with three in four school-aged children spending more than three hours on screens each day.
  • An estimated 72 million data points will have been collected by companies on each child by the age of 13. This can be sold to marketers who can effectively target and attract each child.
  • According to Facebook monitoring, 740,000 children were interested in gambling, and a further 940,000 children were interested in alcohol products in 2018.

Summary findings from the report

  1. Setting the scene: children are surrounded by digital marketing of harmful products via websites, social media, gaming and influencers. Their viewing and browsing habits are also being monitored and recorded by harmful industries, to be used for marketing and promotion.
  2. Marketing of harmful products: digital marketing reaches young children, with evidence that this affects their attitudes, habits, consumption and health later in life.
  3. The digital marketing mix: children are exposed to a growing range of marketing activities online, a mix of clear advertising and more subtle techniques, which are harder to recognize by children and adults.
  4. The current (limited) protections in Australia: the framework overseeing digital advertising of harmful products to children is designed by harmful industries and prioritizes profits over children’s health and wellbeing.
  5. Responses from around the world: efforts are under way in many countries to protect children’s online privacy and digital marketing of harmful products to children.
  6. Conclusion: time to act: a combined, system-wide approach is needed to make sure children can enjoy being online, but are protected from the marketing of harmful industries.

Observation of Facebook pages of some Big Alcohol brands shows how the alcohol industry is manipulating Australian youth by inserting alcohol and their brands into all aspects of youth life. Young people are kept attracted to these pages with various marketing tactics ranging from:

  • Alcoholic popsicle recipes,
  • Free merchandise,
  • Invitations to events, and
  • Giveaways to international festivals.

 

To access the report: https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/-/media/ResearchandEvidence/Under-the-radar–Harmful-industries-digital-marketing-to-Australian-children.pdf?la=en&hash=960D0ED61D543DE331A5C8306EC87E95422FADC2 

To access the website page: https://movendi.ngo/news/2020/11/23/australia-children-increasingly-exposed-to-harmful-digital-marketing

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