The YouTube Kids app was launched in February this year, as an online space that children under the age of 12 could use to watch videos without being exposed to objectionable content; a PG 13 app, so to speak. However, the app has come under the fire of various advocacy groups arguing that the it is filled with advertisements of junk food like Coca-Cola, Nestle and Hershey’s.
“Far from being a safe place for kids to explore, YouTube Kids is awash with food and beverage marketing that you won’t find on other media platforms for young children,” said Josh Golin, a representative of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
Adding insult to injury, the protestors claim that the ads are presented in cartoon form, making it difficult for a child to differentiate between the ad and the actual video. As it is, research has shown that children tend to be more vulnerable to ads. Recently, a study found that fast food restaurants that used child centred advertising tended to be visited more often by children who had watched the ad.
The advocacy groups are aiming their complaints at both the food companies, such as Burger King and Coca-Cola, who had assured the public that they would not market their products on YouTube Kids, and the Google owned YouTube for not making good on its policy that restricts advertising of food and beverages on YouTube Kids.
Complaints were filed to the Federal Trade commission on Tuesday.