The pandemic up-ended school in the U.S. as we once knew it.
In March 2020, homes replaced school buildings, dining room tables replaced desks, and teachers (as they always do!) rose to the occasion.
Sadly, one set of actors—food companies—were already well positioned to profit from the move to virtual learning. Students gain access to their virtual classrooms via platforms—websites and apps like ABCya—on school-issued laptops and other devices. But many of those platforms—roughly 60 percent by one analysis done in June 2020—either contain ads or lack clear advertising policies. And many of those ads are troubling.
Developmental studies show that kids are uniquely vulnerable to marketing because younger children may fail to understand the intent of advertising or the impact of food on their health.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture already limits junk food advertising on school grounds. The same should apply to the new school grounds: school-issued computers and online resources for students.
The least we can expect is that advertising for junk food stops at the school door, whether real or virtual. You can help by signing our petition urging the USDA to eliminate ads in online educational platforms.