LOS ANGELES, June 8 (UPI) -- Top U.S. media groups are stepping up their efforts to market directly to children through interactive Internet environments, industry officials say.
Walt Disney Company Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger said by creating interactive online sites, top media companies are able to entertain children while reaching a profitable demographic, Variety reported Friday.
"Given the changes in the ways families entertain themselves," Iger said, "we feel that building these safe, entertaining and immersive environments is a huge priority of our company."
In addition to keeping children's interest in aging fictional characters such as SpongeBob SquarePants or Tinkerbell, the new Web sites allow companies to immediately introduce new goods to those children.
The increased online marketing has caused distress among some children's advocates, who have called for tighter monitoring.
"It's very accessible for kids without much of a screening process available between you and the child, unless you are really involved in your child's online life," Common Sense Media editor in chief Liz Perle told Variety. "You wouldn't put your child in a car, hand him the keys and say 'See ya.'"