Children's Advertising Review Unit - Advertising to Children

Children’s Advertising Review Unit

The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU), the nation’s first Safe Harbor Program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), helps companies comply with laws and guidelines that protect children from deceptive or inappropriate advertising and ensure that, in an online environment, children's data is collected and handled responsibly. When advertising or data collection practices are misleading, inappropriate, or inconsistent with laws and guidelines, CARU seeks change through the voluntary cooperation of companies and where relevant, enforcement action.

Program Impact

CARU was established in 1974 to support self-regulation in the advertising industry and promote responsible advertising to children. The results of CARU’s work is available to the public.



Monitoring and Enforcement

CARU monitors child-directed media to ensure that advertising is truthful, accurate, appropriate, and compliant with its self-regulatory guidelines, and that online marketing is compliant with both the CARU guidelines and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”).

Pre-Screening Service

From concept to final cut, CARU’s pre-screening services help businesses and agencies spot and correct problems before ads and promotional websites go live. Take advantage of our one-on-one support as you navigate COPPA and CARU compliance.

COPPA Safe Harbor Services

CARU is the first FTC-approved Safe Harbor Program under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and can help your company achieve its business goals while ensuring compliance with COPPA requirements, other applicable online data privacy laws, and CARU’s guidelines.

CARU Supporters have access to benefits and resources including:


Access to CARU experts to answer your questions about advertising and privacy issues directed to children


Complimentary advertising pre-screening and guidance from expert staff


Invitation to the annual Supporters’ Council Meeting to discuss industry challenges




Guidelines & Procedures

CARU leads the development and ongoing management of advertising guidelines for children. To help businesses and advertisers, CARU provides education, one-on-one support, and legal guidance on: 


  • How to be compliant in the delivery of everything from digital ads to product packaging
  • The art of delivering for an impressionable and vulnerable child audience
  • Children’s privacy, unique to digital content and data collection for children under age 13 (these guidelines reflect changes in COPPA)
  • How to approach product presentations, appropriate disclosures, sweepstakes and contests, safety, endorsements, and sales pressure

News & Blog


Children’s Advertising Review Unit Recommends IMC Toys Include “Non-Edible” Disclosure in Cry Babies Magic Tears Tutti Frutti Doll Advertisement

New York, NY – May 27, 2021 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) recommended that IMC Toys USA Inc. modify its television advertisement promoting the Cry Babies Magic Tears Tutti Frutti doll to include a clear and conspicuous disclosure that children should not consume the jell-like...

Read the Decision

CARU’s 2021 Tips for Parents: Safe and Efficient Holiday Shopping

Though much of this year may have felt uncertain, one thing that is certain is the state of 2021 holiday shopping: it is once again primarily online. To help ensure your online holiday shopping experience is safe and efficient, the CARU team has put together some tips and red flags to consider when making your all-important gift selections.
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When Organizations Market To Children, They Should Do So Responsibly

Today's generation of digital natives might be more comfortable navigating gaming and content platforms, but they face the same cognitive limitations — and vulnerabilities — that children always have. The gap between a child’s needs online and the safeguards in place to protect them in digital spaces has grown to the point where big players like Google and Facebook are making more of an effort to address these gaps.
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In-App and In-Game Ads: Tips to Staying Compliant in 2022

Today, children have increased access to technology as well as increased screen time, using apps and playing games, reading books, doing their homework, creatively expressing themselves, and socializing on their devices. As a result, business models have adapted, with apps reliant on ads and in-app purchases for revenue, rather than up-front purchase fees. These new business models require special design considerations outlined in CARU's revised Advertising Guidelines.
Read more



Upcoming Events

International Advertising Association (IAA) Evolving Self-Regulation

Mary Engle, Executive Vice President, Policy, BBB National Programs joins an international panel to discuss the evolving landscape of industry self-regulation.
Learn more
Jan 20, 2022 Virtual

ACI 5th Advertising Claims Substantiation Conference

Mamie Kresses, Vice President, Children's Advertising Review Unit is featured in the session Spotlight Interview and Q+A with CARU: A Deep Dive into Recent New Changes to Children’s Advertising Guidel ...
Learn more
Feb 02, 2022 Virtual

IAPP Global Privacy Summit 2022

Dona J. Fraser, Senior Vice President, Privacy Initiatives, BBB National Programs will lead a panel on Getting Teen Privacy Right: The Time is Now
Learn more
Apr 13, 2022 Washington, DC



Interested in more information about becoming a CARU Supporter?  Contact our National Partners team to learn how.



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