Children are often identified as “vulnerable consumers”, requiring special “protection” in consumer policy. Families Europe is sceptical of such approach. First, the very premise that children should be considered as “consumers” is questionable. More and more civil society and children’s rights advocates call for a “right to a childhood free from commercial pressure”. In that regard, Families Europe has been focusing its work on children’s exposure to advertising and regulation in consumer policy, audiovisual policy, children’s rights agenda and digitalization: Audio Visual Media Services Directive.

On 16th September 2016 in Bratislava, COFACE spoke at a European conference on effective protection of minors in the digital world, highlighting key challenges from a family perspective. This conference was organised by the Slovak presidency of the EU to debate the proposed revision of the Audio-Visual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), which aims interalia to create a level playing field for traditional media and new media,trying to keep up with the pace of change and innovation in the media world.

COFACE spoke on a panel with representatives from traditional media (Mediaset), new media (Google) and regulatory bodies (ERGA). Harnessing the potential of technology, while also protecting children from harmful online practices, is a key priority for COFACE Families Europe.

We highlighted 1/-the need to reduce overall exposure to advertising from traditional broadcasters and online video-sharing platforms, 2/the need for joint development of both age verification mechanisms and mechanisms for classification of online content, 3/the need to support parents to protection their children online both through education and through regulation, 4/the need to make regulation future proof in order to address emerging challenges such as new advertising techniques (through viral content, un boxing videos, virtual and augmented reality) and to better address the issue of product placement, 5/the need to better balance regulation and self-regulation, owing to the inability of current self-regulatory initiatives to curb among other things, exposure of children to advertising or tackling childhood obesity, and finally, the need to avoid focusing only on filtering out bad content, but also trying to promote positive online content for children.

COFACE wishes to explore to which extent there could be better cooperation with key regulatory bodies such as ERGA to ensure that the provisions protecting children are successfully implemented at national level.


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