The makers of the "Selfie Mic" should discontinue advertising claims that imply children under the age of 13 can use all the features of the toy associated with the age-gated app, the Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) has recommended.
Television ads that aired during programming primarily directed to children under the age of 13 depicted tweens singing pop songs with the Selfie Mic. During the ad, an announcer stated: "It's easy! Just download the free Star Maker App, attach your smartphone and you are ready to rock"; "You can make your own real music video"; "You'll sound like a star with special audio effects like Auto-Tune and cool filters"; "Choose from thousands of songs made famous by Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Drake, Ariana Grande and many more"; "Then share with your friends with just one tap"; and "Selfie Mic works with a free downloadable Starmaker App and comes with everything you see here. Plus you'll get Starmaker bonus tokens."
The commercial ended with a child texting a friend her music video with the words "Check it out!!!" on the screen.
But users under the age of 13 may not be able to take advantage of all of the features associated with the age-gated Starmaker app discussed in the advertisement, CARU said, such as saving and sharing videos and downloading free songs.
To save and share videos, users are required to provide personally identifiable information as part of the app registration process. In order to comply with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and prevent children under the age of 13 from sharing such information, the Starmaker app contains an age gate. As a result, children under the age of 13 can interact with the app and the Selfie Mic—but in a limited way, CARU explained, while the ad "concentrated on and built up excitement for" the features younger children could not access.
The self-regulatory body recommended that Moose Toys stop airing the television commercial during children's programming or modify the ad to accurately depict how children under the age of 13 can realistically use the product.
Why it matters: Ironically, the advertiser's compliance with COPPA triggered CARU's concern about the message conveyed by the advertisement. Moose Toys properly age-gated the Starmaker app for the Selfie Mic, but then left children under the age of 13 with the impression that they could enjoy all the features of the product. In its advertiser's statement, Moose Toys said it would comply with CARU's recommendations.