Children as young as five are being exposed to online advertisements and pop-up adverts that contain adult content such as gambling, dating services, as well as sexualised imagery, according to Till Faida, co-founder of Adblock Plus.
Online adverts are often embedded on websites from other sources, making it unlikely that web filters (the primary way many parents protect their children online) will pick up on them.
As a result, Adblock Plus is offering advice as to how parents can protect their children from illicit and inappropriate material, which appears via online advertising.
According to research from Adblock Plus, the average person comes into contact with over 500 online adverts and pop-ups a day. These can range from credit cards and gambling, to ‘no-strings-attached’ online dating. While most adults are fairly confident at recognising and closing adverts of this nature, Till Faida suggests that for younger users, these can cause confusion and even distress, through the images used.
Till commented: “The growth in online gaming and interactive websites mean children as young as five can competently navigate their way around the internet. Many parents are happy to let their children log on unsupervised, as they believe they are free from accessing adult material, due to installed web filters. A recent report from Ofcom into media use and attitudes amongst parents and children, highlighted that of those surveyed, 85 per cent had online controls in place to ensure against their child accessing adult content, as well as teaching them online safety.”
Till continued: “This is all well and good but parents need to realise such measures do not go far enough. The growth in online advertising mean marketers and advertisers are operating in a very competitive field and are therefore becoming much more aggressive in their tactics to ensure their message is seen and clicked through. As a result, a child could be innocently clicking away when something pops up that gets their attention and they click through, opening up to content of a very adult nature.
“We recently conducted a survey into consumer attitudes of online advertisements and our results indicated that 75 per cent of surveyed participants felt that the online advertisements seen by children displays inappropriate content. It’s therefore clear that parents recognise the concerns around online advertisements, however, there’s now the challenge of teaching them how to assert measures and control them.”
Till concluded: “In order to combat this, adblocking software is widely available and is a creditable way of blocking pop-ups and intrusive online adverts. Currently interest and adoption of adblocking software and technology is steadily growing – we alone at Adblock Plus have over 40 million registered users and over 100 million downloads. The appeal adblocking holds for the community and users is that they can benefit from quicker loading and cleaner looking web pages free from advertisements, lower resource waste, and privacy benefits gained through the exclusion of the tracking and profiling systems of ad delivery platforms.
“Currently no web browser offers adblocking capabilities as part of its child protection tools, however, the software can easily be downloaded, giving the power back to the parent, ensuring that the child is free to use the internet without the risk of exposure to inappropriate content.”
Notes to editor
* Research conducted by Censuswide between 29th January 1st February 2013, across a sample of 1,175 adults, responding to the question, “do you think that children see inappropriate content through online advertisements?” Results highlighted 885 respondents replied ‘Yes’ and 290 replied ‘No’.