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How junk food brands target kids on social media

According to Australia Food Safety News, junk food companies are targeting kids on social media. This comes off the back of findings from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, which state that around 1 in 4 Aussie kids are considered medically overweight.

This week, we’re looking at the facts surrounding obesity in children, and whether social media is a key contributor.

The Study

The study relating to junk food companies in Australia and their social media activity was undertaken by Sydney University’s School of Public Health. It spanned a one-month period, and found that unhealthy food and drink companies garnered ‘Likes’ in the number of over 13 million from Aussie consumers on social media. (Specifically Facebook.)

Experts in the health sector felt concern that aggressive marketing techniques may be a catalyst for obesity in Australian children.

What can be done?

Similar studies conducted only recently found that TV programming focused on kids aged between 6 and 11 had 10% less advertising relating to unhealthy food. This is because the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) restricts junk food advertising during child-related programming.

This does not exist for social media, but perhaps it should.

How do junk food companies target kids on social media?

Sydney University’s study looked at 27 of the highest-ranking Facebook pages for junk food brands. The following brands attained the highest number of ‘Likes’:

  • Bubble O’Bill Ice Cream – over a million ‘Likes’.
  • Skittles – over 890,000 ‘Likes’.
  • Domino’s – over 762,000 ‘Likes’.
  • Coca-Cola Australia – over 761,000 ‘Likes’.
  • Coca-Cola – over 714,000 ‘Likes’.

Each page attracted ‘Likes’ through games, picture competitions and endorsements, with many encouraging consumers to take a selfie or image of themselves holding the product to achieve temporary online fame. This is arguably a strategy that lures children and young people to engage with unhealthy products.

Is there a solution?

Lead researcher of the Sydney Uni study, Dr Becky Freeman, was reported as saying to Australian Food Safety News that ongoing unhealthy food and drink marketing had an impact on the rise of obesity in Australia.

Dr Freeman acknowledged that a total ban on junk food advertising was not likely, but as a minimum initial step, more monitoring of how unhealthy food and drink is marketed through social media is vital.

What can parents do?

If your child is on Facebook, we recommend taking a moment to see what brands they have ‘Liked’ through their profile. If they are Liking a high volume of junk food brands, it may be worth having an open discussion with them about how and why unhealthy food companies target young people.

Of course, every parent must decide how to deal with the challenges of social media in a way that suits their own child and their own parenting style. Simply understanding that junk food brands do target young people will arguably give you greater awareness around what is happening in your child’s online world. This in turn, makes a difference to your child.

Want to know more?

Like our Safe Social Media for Kids Facebook page for regular updates on keeping your kids safe online. You can also check back regularly on our blog, which features articles on topics relating to online safety for kids all around the world.

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Mark Knowles talks Rio Olympics and eebudee

eebudee Hero and Australian men’s hockey captain, Mark Knowles, took time out to speak with us about the upcoming Olympics, his eebudee Fridge takeover and how he encourages his young boys to balance screen time with the outdoors.

eebudee: What are you up to right now with your Hockey career

Mark Knowles: At the moment the Australian men’s hockey team is preparing for the Olympics in Rio in August, so it’s a very full on period with a high performing and intense training program.

eebudee: You’re obviously pretty good at getting outdoors and doing physical activity, do you have any tips for kids struggling to get off the computer and outside?

Mark Knowles: Yeah it’s a really important question. One of the things that I always try and do is, I don’t try and push hockey on people. For me, it’s more about getting outdoors, being active and trying different things. When I speak to kids and they ask me, ‘what did you play when you were a kid?’ I say, ‘well, you name every sport and I gave it a go’.

I think the best way to do it is just to try everything. When I was about 15 or 16, I decided that I really wanted to give hockey a go, but even when I was 16, I was still playing 3 other sports. There’s plenty of time to be old when you’re older!

It’s not just about being active, it’s the mental side of it. It’s keeping fresh, it’s about having a life away from your school. That’s very important for me, you know as a role model, but also someone who’s an addict of the outdoors. That’s what I call myself!

eebudee: You have little ones of your own (Flynn, 4 and Luca, 1). How do you encourage them to stay active and get outdoors?

At the moment the boys are into giving everything a go. I’ve got Flynn, who is just over 4 years old. He’s exactly like me, well, they both are! We’re all sports nuts, and my wife Kelly and I are both hockey players and love the outdoors.

I’ve just been out in the sun after training all day today, kicking the soccer ball and hitting the hockey ball with Flynn and Luca, he’s just over 1. They just love playing and love being outside. I think for us, it’s just that healthy work, life balance, and not being too caught up in what I do.

As an elite athlete I’m under pressure all the time to perform and succeed, but I’m also under pressure to be a good family person, and for me that plays such a significant role in me being a good hockey player.

When I’m happy at home and when my family’s happy, that’s very important to me. I want to keep the kids happy and keep them active and enjoying life. Also, seeing their parents enjoy life and being healthy, good role models, that’s really important for Kel and I.

eebudee: Studies show kids start forming habits and attitudes to social media very early on. Do you have any strategies in place for your kids when it comes to social media?

Mark Knowles: I think it’s a very fine balance that families, and parents especially, need to take control of. Obviously for us, Flynn is 4, so he’s got his iPad with ABC Kids on it.

He’s not into gaming or anything like that yet, but what we’re trying to set up as real and proper guidelines, are the times that he’s allowed to be on it.

Flynn gets up in the morning; he’s allowed to watch his iPad for 20 to 30 minutes before he has brekky, or before he goes out to school where he’s going to run around all day. And that also gives Kel and I a break, when Luca is having his sleep.

We also allow him to watch half an hour of kid’s shows before he goes to bed at night. For us it’s about setting real boundaries we’re able to stick to.

Social media and media and gaming and stuff isn’t so much an issue yet, but I think for us its about teaching them good, smart ways to deal with that stuff. That’s why I’ve become involved with eebudee.

eebudee: And we are very excited that you have joined the eebudee Hero ranks! Why did eebudee appeal to you?

Mark Knowles: I love the concept of safe online platforms, and for me, the link with my parents who live on the East Coast of Australia, my wife’s parents, my brother and 2 sisters, my wife’s sister; they’re all on the East Coast, so we have very small amounts of linkage time to them.

That’s why I think eebudee, with the Fridge and things like that, is an exceptional platform for us as a family to be involved with, while still being safe.

eebudee: Are you looking forward to taking over one of the eebudee Fridges and sharing your experiences of Rio? What will you share?

Mark Knowles: For me it’s about seeing the feedback on what people want to see. I lead a very – what I would call – interesting and amazing life. Being able to be a young male in a professional or semi-professional sport, but also with a young family, I think that I have a lot of good info, good insights and pretty cool things I’m able to do every day as an athlete and a father.

For me it’ll just be getting a guide of what people are interested in, but I think it’s showing my family’s side, I think it’s showing what we do as sports people, but it’s also just showing we’re real.

I’m a normal 32-year-old young male who is lucky to do what he does. But I also have roles and responsibilities that are exactly the same as every other father of my age. So it’s not all amazing being an athlete. We still have to change the nappies and do the dishes!

Mark will be posting and sharing images and updates to his own eebudee Fridge during the 2016 Rio Olympics in August. Stay tuned to discover how you can be a part of the adventure!

Cute Young Girl Happily Coloring Her Easter Eggs with Paint Brush in the Park.

3 Tips for keeping Easter yummy and healthy!

Easter is just a few days away, which makes it a good time to talk about healthy eating and encouraging your kids to get off the computer and into the great outdoors.

While most kids are probably aiming to blow out on chocolate this weekend, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case.

To make your life a little easier, we’ve hopped in and come up with 3-tips for striking a balance between yummy and healthy this Easter long weekend.

1. Change up the Easter egg hunt

Forget the typical backyard Easter egg hunt. Instead of hiding chocolate all around the house or in the backyard, hide cryptic clues. Each clue is designed to lead your little one to the next clue location.

If they solve each riddle, they reach the Easter jackpot, which could include chocolate, puzzles or other fun inexpensive items that make their haul look appealing. The trick is to keep fun-levels high while secretly lowering the amount of chocolate your kids get to eat.

2. Get traditional

Did you ever dye eggs at Easter and then roll them down a grassy hill? It sounds a little crazy, but this tradition is said to have originated hundreds of years ago in Mesopotamia.

Getting involved in fun activities that don’t involve eating chocolate is a great way to keep the Easter spirit alive, without compromising on fun. It’s also a good opportunity to teach your little one how to safely boil an egg (if they’re old enough of course).

Head here for a great ‘How to Guide’ on dying Easter eggs.

3. Be active

Balancing eating well with physical activity is so important, especially when you’re trying to lead the way for a little one. This is why we don’t believe any food is truly ‘bad’, especially if you are eating in a balanced way.

A big part of striking a balance is physical exercise. So if you’re stuck for something to do on Easter Sunday, consider getting an egg and spoon race going (you can even use your dyed Easter eggs!). Not only are you showing your kids that getting puffed can be fun, you’re also getting everyone together for some family bonding.

What will you be doing this Easter? Leave a comment on our blog or Like our Safe Social Media for Kids Facebook page to get more tips about balancing nutrition and physical exercise with the online world.