To better understand the scope and effects of online marketing on children, the European Commission has funded an extensive research project:
data were collected through various methods including literature and regulatory review, behavioural experiments, focus groups, survey with childrens and/or their parents and in-depth analysis of the most popular games in the main online platforms.
- Marketing practices have clear impacts on children's behaviour
- Children are commonly exposed to sophisticated and non-transparent marketing practices in online games, mobile applications and social media sites (like embedded or contextual advertisements, in-app purchases etc.);
- Children do not receive equal protection against online marketing across the EU
- Most parents do not see online marketing targeting their children as a major risk
The study was relevant for the enforcement of consumer rights. The European Commission together with national consumer protection authorities from EU countries obtained from the main app stores a clear labelling of games which offer in-app purchases and also that they raise the awareness of game developers on the need to avoid exhorting children to purchase, as required by the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive.
By flagging and documenting problematic marketing practices to which children are exposed online, the study will further inform enforcement activities in this area.