Assessing commercial activity on children’s favourite websites

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In Britain, the National Consumer Council and Childnet have released the results of an extensive series of surveys and interviews with children, youth and their parents. Their work sheds some light into these groups’ activities online, including participation on youth-oriented websites, how they react to advertising aimed at children and youth, and their attitudes towards privacy.

Here are some of the findings from fair game? Assessing commercial activity on children’s favourite websites and online environments.

  • Nearly all (92 per cent) of the sites popular with children have a clearly-labelled privacy policy. But a quarter of third-party advertisers do not have a privacy policy on the websites that their adverts link to.
  • None of the children and only a few of the parents in our research had read a privacy policy. Both children and their parents found the small-print off-putting and lacking in relevance.
  • Few websites have privacy policies that children can understand, even if they try to read them; we found only eight policies on the websites popular with children likely to be understood by a 9-13-year-old.
  • Five advertisers encouraged children to give away their friends’ details or send the information to a friend in return for free offers.

‘Is that the box down the bottom? Ticks. It’s whether they keep your information to their company or share it. When you sign up for anything it’s right down at the bottom and if you don’t tick it you automatically get everything’. ‘(It’s there) ‘cos they have to. By law. It’s just blurb isn’t it? It’s all there. You haven’t got time to read it’.

Mothers of 7-11-year-olds

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