Kid influencers on YouTube are marketing junk food and sugary beverages to their fellow kids, and they’re racking up billions of page views, according to a new study published Monday in the journal Pediatrics.
The study demonstrates how advertisers are seeking to take advantage of new avenues to market their wares to children.
“We should approach YouTube influencer videos with skepticism, even with videos that seem to be educational or kid-friendly,” said senior author Marie Bragg, an assistant professor of public health nutrition with joint appointments at New York University’s School of Global Public Health and Langone Medical Center.The researchers analyzed videos posted by the five most-watched kid influencers on YouTube in 2019.
The influencers were between the ages of 3 and 14. The study team noted whether the influencers played with toys or consumed food, such as McDonald’s meals, keeping tabs on the amount of time they spent on a given activity.Of the 418 YouTube videos that fell within their search criteria, the researchers found that 179 of the videos featured food or drinks, with 90% of those instances showing unhealthy branded items, such as fast food.Those specific YouTube videos were viewed more than a billion times.