We recently contributed to the Australian Association of National Advertisers' Children's Advertising Code Review. In our submission, we said that the Children’s Code is failing to meet its stated objectives and recommended a review of the objectives to ensure that the guiding principle is the best interests of the child.
We highlighted ongoing concerns about the harmful impacts of exposure to objectifying and porn style advertising which form the backdrop of children's and young people's everyday activities, and the failure of the self-regulated advertising system to protect them from it.
We expressed our concerns about the employment of children on social media platforms as brand ambassadors, or "kidfluencers", to promote products and services. We highlighted the serious risks kidfluencers are at, of being sexualised in promotional content, connected to predators and losing their privacy.
We made a number of recommendations including:
- The Children’s Code and Practice Notes should continue to be subjects of public consultation to ensure the wellbeing of children and the broader community is the primary consideration
- The Children’s Code should apply to all communications that children will see, rather than only communications directed to them
- Acknowledge and regulate sexualised content as being harmful to children even when it is “relevant to the product”
- Carefully regulate the use of children as brand ambassadors, or “kidfluencers”
- Companies and marketers must take great care not to allow images of children to be misused online
- The Children’s Code should apply to all communications for which children are part of the relevant audience, not only where children are the target audience
- Independent research (not commissioned by AANA) should be conducted into the effectiveness of the current scheme
- Urgent measures should be introduced to ensure compliance with the Code, to bring the industry in line with research evidence on sexually objectifying imagery
We look forward to learning the outcomes of the review, and hope our recommendations, which prioritise children's safety and wellbeing over vested interests, will be implemented.
Click the image below to read our full submission.