YouTube Kids, an app meant for children under the age of 12, is drawing flak from two advocacy groups for children in the US for carrying advertisements and promotional material for junk food and beverages.
According to YouTube Kids policy, paid advertisements of junk food won't be broadcast on the site. The app is positioned as a space that contains children-appropriate content, but the advocacy groups differ.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Centre for Digital Democracy have found ads of Coca-Cola, Hershys, Nestle, etc, on the Google-owned app and have registered a complaint asking the US Federal Trade Commission to investigate YouTube Kids.
In the complaint, the groups have included screenshots of the ads, promotional videos, or videos with product placement selling Reese's peanut butter cups, Crunch bars, Hershey Kisses, Nutella, and Pop Tarts, reports Wired.com.
CCFC Executive Director Josh Golin said: "Far from being a safe place for kids to explore, YouTube Kids is awash with food and beverage marketing you won't find on other media platforms for young children."
A spokeswoman from YouTube responded: "YouTube Kids prohibits paid advertising for all food and beverage brands. We also ask YouTube creators to disclose if their videos contain paid product placement or incentivised endorsements, and we exclude those videos from the YouTube Kids app."
She added: "The app contains a wide range of content, including videos with food-related themes, but these are not paid advertisements."
The groups had registered a complaint in April when they found videos with ads included in the reel of the video as it was profitable for video creators to include advertisements. The advocacy groups argue that children won't have the discretion to distinguish between a video and an ad, and as kids spend more and more time on the Internet today than watching television, which has some guidelines, it becomes a concerning matter.