I have a confession to make. After being in quarantine for more than 50 days, my kids screen time has skyrocketed. Un montón. As a mother, I have learned a thing or two about how to protect kids in the digital space.
I don’t feel bad about our use of screen time during this pandemic. (Sorry abuelas) Screens have become necessary to navigate distance learning, keep in touch with loved ones, and juggle the new normal of our social distance times.
What I am worried about is how this also means exposing my children to an environment where their rights and health are at risk.
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How Can We Protect Our Children
The last few weeks have been tough. Not only have we had to deal with the changes in routines and learning to live our lives within a pandemic, but we also sold our home of ten years and moved to a new state.
Because of all the sudden changes to my children’s lives, I have relaxed some rules and tried to be more patient. So when the other day my twelve year-old out of the blue asked me to buy her make-up, I didn’t think twice.
As I watched this little girl of mine exploring colors and brushes, I couldn’t help to wonder how the heck in five weeks she suddenly got interested in wearing make-up. Not that make-up is a bad thing but it’s just a bit atypical for someone who didn’t want to put lipgloss on for her dancing recital three months ago. Was it a quarantine miracle?
After I learned more about digital market targeting to Latino children on this article on the UnidosUS website, I started paying more attention to the ads on the “free versions” of apps that my kids have access to and the websites that they visit during the week. And this is what I found.
In one week, my Kindergarten was presented ads from 3 gaseosa drinks and 2 sugary snacks. My third grader was presented to ads of a fast-food chain and 2 sugary snacks. Meanwhile, my fifth-grader, who has access to a mobile phone was targeted with several ads of junk food and.. makeup.
These ads are intentionally targeted at our children to influence their behavior. My frustration is that even as an informed parent, it would be difficult to protect my kids’ personal information from being collected on websites, apps, and other digital content that my kids use. That is why we need policymakers to develop strong protections for children’s digital privacy by strengthening The Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
Targeting ads designed to negatively influence our children’s nutrition choices only reinforces health issues. Latino kids are getting a “double dose” of targeted marketing in both English and Spanish. This is terrifying and a major racial and health equality issue.
We can stay up to date with the the things we can do to protect kids from the harms of digital targeted marketing and how we can take action by following UnidosUS social channels.
This is a sponsored post. All my opinions are my own.