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Regulating online content for children, and how it would affect businesses: MediaNama’s discussion on Online Content Regulation

Ensuring the safety of children who consume content on the internet is the responsibility of various service providers, and of parents as well: “If parents do not want their kids to see certain types of content, they should just block it out, and ensure to use parental controls offered by streaming platforms,” said a speaker at MediaNama’s roundtable on the regulation of online content, held in Mumbai on December 13, with support from Netflix and Amazon.

However, “kids are figuring it out faster than we are,” said Tanmay Bhat, co-founder of comedy collective All India Bakchod. “I don’t know if you guys [parents] are keeping track of what kids are watching. There is very little that I can teach them at this point.” he said, adding that children are going to watch what they want, even if their parents try to restrict something.

Note that quotes aren’t verbatim, and have been edited for clarity.

Tanmay Bhat, All India Bakchod

But, if we push for no regulation of online content, then we will have to deal with the issue of children finding something inappropriate on the internet, said Samir Bangara, co-founder and MD of Qyuki Digital Media.

Are platforms doing enough to ensure children’s safety?

“YouTube is implementing a change where all kids’ content is going to stop having any advertising,” said Bangara. “We’ve all been asked to actually tag as content designed for children. And if it is, it will not have advertising because they’re [YouTube] getting real issues with advertisers for this,” he added.

However, Aditi Agrawal, senior research associate at MediaNama pointed out that YouTube’s app dedicated for kids’ use called YouTube Kids has “pretty bad” age-gating mechanisms. “To verify that you are a parent, they [YouTube] gives you things like three plus four,” said Agrawal. She added that this highlights how “children can circumvent most of these mechanisms quite easily,” and urged platforms to device robust age gating mechanisms instead of simple arithmetic.

Samir Bangara, Qyuki Digital Media

How would this affect businesses?

Bangara said that “advertising will first drop off in this entire segment,” which will then be followed by “blood and mayhem” and people who are creating great content for kids will start charging a “super-premium” for it.

“People who actually want to advertise to kids will pay a 5x premium for it, and it will eventually adjust. But there’s no denying that there will be blood when the pendulum swings in these different directions. And there’s no denying the fact that it’s a good thing to regulate this for kids specially.”  Samir Bangara

There are businesses that are running on advertising on kids’ channels that are going to get massively hit right now because YouTube paid a $100 million Dollar fine in litigation in the US, said Bangara. So when this happens, a lot of businesses would argue that they can’t afford to employ more people and will eventually shut down. “This is going to happen,” Bangara added.

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Read our coverage of the our roundtable on Online Content Regulation in Mumbai here

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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