General Article Children and advertising on social media websites

Topic Selected: Social Media
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Foreword by Guy Parker, Chief Executive

Should we be concerned if an 11-year-old girl registers her age on a social media site as 18? Or if a 15-year-old boy pretends to be 25? Does it come as a surprise to anyone that a significant proportion of people under 16 register under false ages online?

Part of our commitment to protecting young people is ensuring we better understand how they use social media. As part of that, we commissioned a survey to find out what ads young people see and engage with online and whether those ads stick to the UK advertising rules.

This article provides a fascinating, and in some respects disconcerting, glimpse into the media consumption habits of children. It reveals that ten participants (42% of all children in our study) falsely registered themselves as aged 18 or over. As a result, they were presented with ads for age-restricted products including for gambling, alcohol, slimming aids and overtly sexual dating services – all categories that are sub...

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