‘Kidfluencers’ are targeting your children with junk food ads

HOUSTON – A study looked at the top kid influencers on YouTube and found they’re making millions of dollars to advertise unhealthy products to your kids.

In a study published in the Journal of Pediatrics, they looked at 418 YouTube videos, 179 of the videos featured food and drinks which popped up almost 300 times in those videos.

Anyone searching for children and teen videos can easily be bombarded by social media stars playing with toys, fast food, coffee, etc.

Even though for decades, TV characters haven’t been allowed to do things like this but there are no regulations for social media. For example, in one viral video of Jojo Siwa, she said she’s eating 100 Happy Meals as part of a “challenge.”

Your kids under 8-years-old, according to Dr. Lindy McGee from Harris Health System in Pasadena, are not developmentally able to recognize ads.

“For those kids, we really should be limiting their access to media and making sure that the media that they’re absorbing is educational and ethical,” Dr. McGee said.

For older children and teenagers, she said to set strict parental controls on social media accounts and teach them by pointing out ad placement (even if it doesn’t look like a commercial), which isn’t easy even for educated adults.

“Even when you spot it, it works, it works in adults! Adults know that it’s going on, but we’re influenced by social media influencers who are paid to get endorsements,” Dr. McGee said.

This is dangerous to kids’ health because Dr. McGee said adult diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes and liver disease are on the rise.

KPRC was not able to personally verify that these stars received endorsements for these videos.

Dr. McGee said policymakers should consider banning all kinds of product placement in any children’s videos. Plus, she said laws need to be written that are flexible enough so when new media platforms pop up, it always remains against policy and unethical to advertise to children.