A Citizen Science Approach to Monitoring unhealthy industry digital marketing to young people

Project: Research

Project Details

Project Description

This project will work with young people to examine the promotion of alcohol, junk food, sugary drinks, and gambling they see through digital platforms and apps. These include social media, streaming services, search engines, and digital games platforms. Young Victorians will work with us as citizen scientists to document the advertising they see and engage with, interpret how it works, and record its effect on their perceptions, attitudes and behaviours toward unhealthy products and digital marketing.

Companies now leverage the power of digital media to create advertisements that are made and shared by young people (whether ‘influencers’ or everyday users), targeted to them in particular times, places and contexts. This marketing is participatory, data-driven, and often hidden from public view. Young citizen scientists are critical to documenting unhealthy digital marketing because it is often only visible to the young people who are being targeted. Unlike broadcast or print advertising there are rarely systematic public archives of advertisements or clear independent regulations around standards.

The young citizen scientists that join our study will work alongside key research experts - our Chief Investigators (CIs) - who are research leaders on digital marketing, young people’s social media use, unhealthy consumption and the sociology of youth.

This work will establish a considerable body of evidence of unhealthy marketing through digital channels, co-analysed with young people themselves. The evidence will inform the development of monitoring and regulation of unhealthy digital marketing. The project will also develop young Victorians’ critical literacy about, and engagement with, unhealthy digital marketing.
Effective start/end date1/09/2017/09/21


  • social media
  • youth
  • alcohol
  • advertising
  • marketing
  • citizen science