Advergames - it's not child's play
Advergames - it's not child's play
Junk food manufacturers are targeting children, providing unlimited access to digital games that advertise their products or ‘advergames’.
Advertising for food and drinks high in sugar, salt and fat (junk food) is banned during children’s TV. But children can have unrestricted access to advergames, often revisiting websites to play for many hours at a time.
Most children don’t recognise that these games are advertising a product. They fail to spot the ulterior motives of these advergames, which appeal to their subconscious and affect their choices and behaviour towards products that are often high in salt, sugar and fat.
There are two main types of advergames:
1. Games that are used to advertise a product or a brand
2. Product placement in games or apps
The Code of Practice on Advertising Practice states clearly that ‘adverts must be obviously identifiable as such.’ This means children should be able to tell that a game is being used to advertise a product or a brand. However, we commissioned a review of the research on children and advergames from over 60 studies in 12 countries and found that most children under 10 (as well as a lot of adults) don’t understand that an advergame is actually an advert.
As we are not able to exercise our usual conscious judgement to create a barrier, we subconsciously form positive emotional associations to the products promoted in advergames – raising fundamental ethical questions.
• Take our quiz to see how much you know about advergames
• Spend time with your child on their favourite websites and try to spot advertising.
o How easy is it to recognise?
o Does your child understand that a message that says “play” is actually trying to sell something?
• Look for TV adverts on websites – especially ones for junk food that would not be allowed during children’s TV
• Let us know what you find – leave us a comment here
• Complain to the Advertising Standards Association if you find something you don’t like
We’re raising awareness amongst parents and children, as well as highlighting any examples that we think break the code of practice on advertising to children.
1. Immediate requirement for obligatory, clear, uniform labelling system for children’s advergames in UK
2. Public debate on whether advertising techniques that persuade children subconsciously should be legal
3. Requirement for High Salt Sugar and Fat (HSSF) TV regulations to extend to children’s websites
4. Public consultation on the status of voluntary pledges within advertising regulation
5. Public consultation on whether a children’s arm of the Advertising Standards Authority should be set up with a more proactive remit
The commercialisation of childhood is a major concern of many UK parents who feel that young children are experiencing too much too young.
In the summer of 2011, the government-backed Bailey Review into the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood was published. The Family and Parenting Institute advised the review's head, Reg Bailey.
The Review recommended:
• The introduction of age ratings on music videos
• Easier ways for parents to block adult content online
• Strengthening the 'watershed' for TV viewing
• Ensuring explicit magazine covers are not in easy view of children
• Clamping down on billboards with sexual content near schools
Find out more about our work on childhood commercialisation.