1. Akshay Masand's Avatar

    Consumer and child advocacy groups such as the Center for Digital Democracy have recently asked the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Google’s YouTube Kids app violates rules for children’s programming. The app, which happens to be available for both iOS and Android, curates YouTube channels and videos considered appropriate for children. According to the San Jose Mercury News, the group is arguing that Google is deliberately targeting advertising at children in a violation of rules conceived to govern kids’ TV programming.

    For those of you who didn’t know the regulations were put into place in the wake of 1970s research showing that younger children had trouble rejecting advertising or even understanding that they’re being influenced. Furthermore, the American Psychological Association reiterated a similar result in 2004.

    Google uses targeted advertising in both YouTube Kids and the regular version of its YouTube app to help eliminate subscription fees. Some of the ads feature toys or entertainment that are aimed at children. The Kids app also includes channels that are actually branded ones for products like Lego or My Little Pony – a move which means that a child may be watching a stream that’s effectively a long promotion.

    The filed FTC complaint also casts doubt on the inclusion of unboxing videos. Unofficial unboxing videos are common on YouTube but its claimed that owners of the unboxing channels in the app are undisclosed and are effectively toy ads. A spokesperson from YouTube ended up telling the Mercury News that Google "consulted with numerous partners and child advocacy and privacy groups" while developing the app, that being said, the company is still "open to feedback" on how it could make improvements.

    There are other groups that care calling for an investigation including Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, he Consumer Federation of America, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Children Now, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Consumer Watchdog, Corporate Accountability International and Public Citizen.

    Source: San Jose Mercury News

    Twitter: @AkshayMasand
    2015-04-09 05:57 AM