Warc Blog

Children access adult social media

30 July 2013
LONDON: A majority of British children aged 11 to 15 are registering on social media sites by giving false ages, according to a new report from the UK's advertising regulator that may lead to advertisers having to review current guidance.

The Advertising Standards Authority conducted a survey to establish what ads young people view online and whether those ads met with standards set by the advertising code.

It found that over 80% of the 24 children surveyed had registered on a social media site after providing a fake age and 42% falsely claimed to be aged 18 or over.

As a result, 11% of the 218 ads presented to those registered as over 18 were for age-restricted products and services, such as alcohol, gambling and dating sites.

But the ASA also found that 98.4% of the 427 ads the children viewed in total kept within the rules and none of the age-restricted ads contained content that sought to appeal especially to children.

Commenting on the report, the ASA's chief executive, Guy Parker, said honesty is required before blame is laid at the door of parents and guardians.

"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?" Parker said.

He also warned that the ASA will discuss with media companies and advertisers whether a "tougher line" is required and whether they are doing enough to prevent children from accessing age-restricted material.

The findings will be considered by the ASA Council, an independent body that decides on whether or not the regulator's codes have been breached in specific instances. The Council will decide whether guidance needs to be strengthened or whether further research is required.

Social media companies will also be consulted on the issue.


Data sourced from the Advertising Standards Authority; additional content by Warc staff

 
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