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OPINION BAROMETER.INFO

According to media reports, parents often complain about inappropriate advertising in games or on video platforms on the Internet. Who should those affected turn to in such a case?
Although advertising is in principle also possible in offers for children, increased transparency requirements as well as special provisions such as the prohibition of direct purchase appeals to children and young people must be observed. If parents notice specific cases of age-appropriate advertising in games, they can report this to voluntary self-regulation institutions such as the self-regulation entertainment software (USK). If a member of USK.online is suspected of violating the legal provisions of the State Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media, USK will contact the provider and, if necessary, obtain an adjustment of the age classification or removal of the violation.

There is also a similar procedure for game apps. Direct contact with the provider can help here, alternatively reports to the platform operator (e.g. Google in the case of the Google Playstore) are helpful, as this type of advertising can usually also contradict the store guidelines.

In addition, those affected can contact the state media authorities responsible for advertising regulation or the Commission for the Protection of Young People in the Media with their complaints.

What do you recommend to parents about how they can protect their children from inappropriate advertising on digital platforms?
First of all: Unfortunately, there can never be complete protection on the Internet. Parents should, however, be more interested in what offers their children and young people use and keep talking to them about them. In social networks in particular, parents can point out the risk of unconscious influence through unfair advertising measures and inform them accordingly. Active support in the selection of games and apps can also be helpful.

In addition to active media support, it also makes sense, depending on the design of the offer, to make use of the technical options available for restricting access. The activation of so-called "Parental Controls" (e.g. on mobile devices) can minimize the risk of playing games / game apps that are not age-appropriate.

What should the advertising industry do?
The advertising industry should be in close contact with the respective provider in order to avoid misdirected and undesired target group orientation. Early coordination between providers, web partners and voluntary self-regulation institutions can be recommended in order to ensure a legally compliant advertising concept from the outset. Any warnings, additional costs and unnecessary effort can thus be prevented when designing the offer. Intensive communication would increase transparency and trust, from which providers and advertisers can benefit equally.

Do you see a need for regulation for age-appropriate advertising in the digital world?
The advertising violations we are talking about can already be easily identified using existing laws and sanctioned accordingly. So far we have made the experience that violations can be eliminated quickly through clarification and cooperation with providers. In my opinion, additional regulation does not appear to be necessary.