Social Media Companies Made Billions In Advertising Targeting Minors

A recent study has revealed that social media companies earned over $11 billion by advertising to minors in the past year. According to rsearch, this is the amount of money that was generated this year from advertising to minors.

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health researchers estimated the number of users under 18 years old on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, X and YouTube in 2022 using U.S. Census data. Additionally, they calculated the approximate ad revenue and amount of time children spent on the platforms with data from Insider Intelligence and a parental control app called Qustodio.

Researchers indicate that more stringent regulations should be imposed on online platforms that are not taking steps to protect minors. This could also help to tackle the mental health issues among young people.

Bryn Austin, a professor in the Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences at Harvard, remarked that, despite claims that social media platforms can self-manage to reduce the risks to young people, they have not done so yet, and the research indicates there are huge economic motivations for them to keep on postponing taking substantive measures to protect minors.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2020 shed light on the issue of digital advertising and its impact on young, developing minds. Their statement indicated that such practices can be exploitative.

Researchers noted that due to their undeveloped critical thinking abilities and susceptibility to impulsivity, children are particularly vulnerable to the persuasive effects of advertisements. They may be able to recognize ads, but they may not be able to resist them when they are presented within familiar social networks, by famous endorsers, or alongside personalized content.

This year, the Federal Trade Commission proposed modifying its regulations regarding advertising in an effort to limit child-targeted ads, among which is the disabling of promotional content for those 13 years of age and below.