Barrie Gunter
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Regulation and control of branding to children
in Kids and branding in a digital world
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The growing concern about children’s pre-occupation with brands has led to calls for tighter government-backed restrictions on brand owners’ marketing activities. The appeal of digital worlds to young consumers has not gone unmissed by professional marketers. The concerns of marketing regulators around the world has grown particularly acute with the emergence of more subtle forms of branding activity in online environments that often disguise their true purpose. Until they reach a level of psychological development that approaches adulthood, children are in any case susceptible to marketing appeals. This is true even with forms of advertising that stand apart from other media content or the physical setting in which they are presented. In digital worlds, brand promotions are frequently integrated with surrounding content and form part of it. This chapter examines these concerns and considers concepts of taste, freedom of choice and harm in debating what kinds of restrictions might be placed on different brand marketing activities where children are concerned.

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