Last month we detailed how one of the key statistics being relied upon by campaigners calling for ‘default blocking’ of some internet content was based upon one very dubious survey in a single school.
This kind of deliberately misleading scaremongering undermines the discussion about how best to protect children, and now it’s clear that commercial pressures are also leading to dodgy stats being pushed into the debate.
This week, the Advertising Standards Authority has rebuked Carphone Warehouse for it’s marketing of a service we’ve previously been very critical of, Bemilo. The service hit the headlines for it’s feature that allowed parents to read the text messages of children, prompted by our warning that parenting is not spying.
Four claims made in advertisements were challenged, relating to how children use mobile phones and the effects it has.
1. “33% are sleep deprived”;
2. “1 in 10 receive bullying texts or calls”;
3. “25% of children call or text in a class during school”; and
4. “33% spend up to 5 hours a day browsing the web on their phone”.
When the ASA investigated the claims, it found that the first three points the advertisement breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising) and 3.7 (Substantiation).
On the fourth point the ASA found it breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 3.1 (Misleading advertising).
In other words four key statistical claims in the advertisement were misleading, and three of them could not be properly substantiated.
Carphone Warehouse has been told not to run the advert again, and we hope that this will once again demonstrate how the child protection debate is being driven by vested interests whose primary concern is not the protection of children.