THE UK'S Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has conducted a study that found children are signing up with social networks using fake ages.
The ASA was looking into what adverts children might be exposed to, and it found that they were being exposed to inappropriate advertising because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The ASA said that "the majority" of young persons are joining social networking websites using fake ages. "All but four of the 24 children aged between 11 and 15 who participated registered on a social media site using a false age," it found, "Ten participants (42% of children) were falsely registered as aged 18 or over."
What this means is that while advertisers are behaving appropriately, pesky children are not. Because of this they are exposed to inappropriate adverts for "gambling, alcohol, slimming aids and overtly sexual dating services".
While the ASA is happy that kids are not seeing things they shouldn't, except when they are, it does make a little noise about age verification on social networks.
"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," it said. "We will be raising these issues with social media companies."
"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?," said ASA chief executive Guy Parker.
"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." µ