Childrens purchasing behaviour significantly impacted by social media and mobile apps research shows

Exposure to prompts to make in-app purchases in mobile games has a significant impact on children’s purchasing behaviour, according to a recent study funded by the European Commission involving Dr Giuseppe Veltri, who now works at the Department of Media Communication.

The study examined the impact on children of in-game adverts in advergames, mobile apps and social media games and suggests that children are often exposed to a number of problematic marketing practices in online games, mobile apps and social media sites which are not always understood by the child consumer.

Dr Veltri said: "This is a significant study on an already pressing policy issue. The study demonstrated the large impact that online marketing practices can have on children and the difficulty in managing such effects from the perspective of parents and sheds light on their coping strategies.

“Both these aspects represent a crucial input for policymakers interested in regulating this area.”

The study confirms the need for a strong and harmonised protection of children as consumers, and it brings new evidence that advances the understanding of children as potentially vulnerable consumers and of marketing practices that can be considered unfair from the perspective of child consumers.

The study also provides evidence to support the ban on product placement in programmes with a significant children audience in the proposed Directive on Audio-Visual Media Services, and is relevant for the ongoing review of EU consumer and marketing law.