40% of children on social networks pretend to be aged 18 or over

Young browsers: ASA says 40% of children on social networks say they are over 18
Young browsers: ASA says 40% of children on social networks say they are over 18

More than 40% of children are signing up to social media networks by claiming to be older than 18, subjecting them to targeted advertising for gambling, alcohol, slimming aids and sexual dating services, according to research from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

Based on a group of 24 children, 42% said they had registered as aged 18 and over, while 83% of the kids had lied about their age to register with a social network.

The ASA examined ads served to children on social networks including Facebook, YouTube, Stardoll and Twitter as part of resarch aimed at finding out what ads they engage with online, when it unearthed that kids were lying about their ages. 

Of the 218 ads served to those who had lied about their age, 11% were for products that should not be targeted at under 18s. Of the 427 ads seen by the entire sample, 98% adhered to advertising rules.

The ASA said it will talk to advertisers about "self-declared age-gating", adding it would also raise the issue with social media companies.

It said: "Our report clearly asks questions of social media owners around the effectiveness of age-verification and whether enough is being done to prevent children from accessing age-restricted content on social media sites. We will be raising these issues with social media companies."

The ASA added that the research showed that advertisers "are working in good faith by taking into account the registered age of social media account holders".

It will present the research findings to its council and raising the issue with the Advertising Code writing body, the Committee of Advertising Practice and would assess whether new guidance was required for targeted online ads.

Guy Parker, the ASA’s chief executive, said: "On the face of it, our survey suggests that advertisers are sticking to the rules but children aren’t. But before we all lay the blame with parents and guardians, we need to be honest: if advertisers and social media companies know that children say they’re older than they are, don’t they have a crucial part to play too?

"We’ll be talking to them about self-declared age-gating and considering whether we need to take a tougher line.  But we all need to be part of this conversation about how best to set the boundaries within which our children explore the world around them."

Discussion

Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now

Latest

O2 head of brand Shadi Halliwell departs after 23 years at company in restructure
Tesco hit by further sales decline as it turns to digital Clubcard and social network
Branding guru Wally Olins dies aged 83
Duracell short film captures epic Transatlantic voyage
Ash runs Tinder experiment to show smokers are less desirable to opposite sex
British Airways teams up with Gerry Cottle Jnr for summer of rooftop film screenings
Arklu says 'girls can be superheroes too' with doll design competition
Coke enters squash market with Oasis Mighty Drops
Virgin Galactic signs up Land Rover as space flight sponsor
Motorola marketer Andrew Morley departs as Google gears up for sale to Lenovo
US Airways apologises after tweeting obscene image at a customer
Mumsnet admits users' emails and passwords accessed via Heartbleed bug
Thetrainline.com backs 'rubbish' mobile app with TV ad
Powerade launches global World Cup campaign
Burberry's flagship Shanghai store facade responds to weather changes
Subway considers taking fast food to fast lane with F1 sponsorship
Ikea splurges 'grey' Belgium with colour
Grim outlook for Tesco boss Philip Clarke ahead of expected profits fall
Thomson to create first crowd-sourced wedding decided by Facebook fans
Currency wars meets origami in Alpari FX trading ad campaign
Amazon rumoured to launch 3D smartphone in September
Facebook to allow European users to store and transfer money on site, claims report
Unilever pilots multi-brand advertising with YouTube beauty channel
Lego, Coca-Cola, Net-a-Porter, Bitcoin and AOL: the digitally creative brands
Dove tries to tell women their beauty is innate through placebo patches
Wonga faces social media storm after forcing Twitter to remove satirical material
Spotify tells the stories of relationships with music
Skype contrasts real stories with 'saccharine' style of Google and Apple
Top 100 UK advertisers: BSkyB increases lead as P&G, BT and Unilever reduce adspend
Viral Review: One Direction perfume 'prankvert' should have been a bigger hit