Chat, follow celebrities, use social media: Children and adolescents are increasingly traveling online, being bombarded with advertisements that can endanger their health. The World Health Organization (WHO) warns against that. Governments needed better usage data to better regulate this advertising world to protect children, the WHO European Region said on Thursday.
In order to prevent heart disease, cancer and obesity in adults, it is important to protect even children and adolescents from advertising unhealthy foods. These include especially sweet, salty or greasy snacks. There is more and more evidence that children and adolescents are affected by digital marketing for unhealthy products, the WHO said. Non-infectious diseases accounted for 86 percent of the causes of death in Europe, according to the WHO. The region includes 53 countries, including the EU, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.
6 out of 10 adolescents make in-app purchases
According to a UK study, WHO cites that three-quarters of 13- to 17-year-olds follow social media brands they like and that 57 percent buys in apps and online games.
If alcohol companies invite users to upload or share content themselves, it may appeal to younger people, WHO warns. Young people often trusted content uploaded by other users or influencers who are paid for advertising, often insufficiently labeled. Most countries now spend more on digital media than on TV, according to the WHO.
Platforms want to keep user data to themselves
But there are far too few user data, also because platforms like Facebook, Google and Amazon want to keep their information to themselves. The WHO urges authorities to investigate which age groups from which social strata will be online when and what type of digital communication they are using. Also know about the digital strategies of advertisers too little. Armed with this information, governments could better protect young people.