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This article describes major changes in how video content and advertising is delivered to consumers. Digital technologies such as broadband allow consumers to stream or download programming. Smart phones and tablets allow consumers to view screen content virtually anywhere at any time. Advertising has become personalized and integrated with other content.

Despite these major changes in the media markets, the framework for regulating advertising to children has not changed very much since the 1990s. This article argues that the existing regulatory framework must be reinvented to protect children in the digital age. It uses Google’s recently introduced YouTube Kids app (“YTK”), which is designed for use by children aged 5 and under, to illustrate a range of unfair or deceptive marketing practices – such as unboxing videos, brand channels, and influencer videos. Many of the videos available on the YTK app, would violate the FCC’s children’s television rules if they were shown on broadcast or cable television.

The article describes the relative roles and effectiveness of the FCC and FTC in preventing advertising that takes advantage of children, who because their cognitive abilities are still developing, do not distinguish advertising from other content or understand the purpose of advertising. It identifies the traditional rationales for limiting advertising to children and finds that the same or greater concerns exist today. Finally, it discusses the prospects for updating protections for children in the digital age.

Publication Citation

Angela J. Campbell, Rethinking Children's Advertising Policies for the Digital Age, 29 Loy. Consumer L. Rev. (forthcoming).