Federal Communications Commission launches US inquiry into ‘empowering parents and protecting children in an evolving media landscape’
On 23 October, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a
Notice of Inquiry (NOI), “asking how children can be served and protected and parents can be further empowered in the new digital media landscape.”
The inquiry, which “seeks information on the extent to which children are using
electronic media today,” refers to digital advertising as one of the risks of new media exposure.
With regard to advertising, the consultation document seeks answers to the following questions:
• “One significant concern with children’s exposure to media is the harms that may arise from advertising specifically directed to children and used to influence children’s consumption of products. Some of these products may be unhealthy food that can promote obesity. In addition, there is some evidence that younger children often do not understand the persuasive intent of advertisements, and even older children may have difficulty understanding the intent of newer marketing techniques, such interactive, embedded, viral, and behavioral advertising that blur the line between commercial and programme content.”
• “[Regarding the Task Force on Media and Childhood Obesity] Have these voluntary efforts to curtail advertising of unhealthy food to children proven effective? Do these commitments extend beyond television to other media platforms, such as the Internet and mobile devices? Are additional actions needed to address these concerns?”
• “To what extent are commercials containing inappropriate content aired during children’s television programming or during general audience programming that may be viewed by children, such as sports programming? Is it feasible to block advertisements that may be inappropriate for children on various media platforms? What are the costs and benefits? What likely economic impact would this have on advertiser-supported media? If the benefits outweigh the costs, what actions could government or industry take to ensure that children are not exposed to inappropriate content? What incentives could the government provide to encourage age-appropriate advertising practices?”
• “[…] Non exempted promotional materials aired during programming produced for children age 12 and younger must be counted as commercial time. Has this rule limited the exposure of young children to inappropriate promotional materials during children’s television programming?”
The document asks specific questions about the value of media literacy education, including the following:
• To what extent is media literacy a required part of school curricula throughout the nation?
• Is media literacy education in schools particularly critical for those at-risk children whose parents are either unaware of the benefits and harms of media consumption or choose not to become involved in monitoring their children’s media use?
• At what age should children begin to be taught media literacy?
• Is it critical for such education to begin early in a child’s development?
• What roles do the Department of Education and other government or private organizations play in this area?
• Are there studies or data on the effectiveness of media literacy education and which approaches work best for particular demographics?
• What are current best practices on teaching media literacy?
• Are there limitations on the value of teaching media literacy to children?
• For example, are there certain issues, such as the ability to understand persuasive intent in advertising, that children under a certain age lack the cognitive ability to comprehend?
The consultation will close in January 2010.
Source: Advertising Education Forum