Social media sites have gained immense popularity and following over recent years and its benefits are not only being used individuals all over the world, but also by companies who are using it as a platform for marketing their products. Social networking sites are used as a means of connecting to people, without barriers of distance and demographics. These sites are meant for adults only and hence, they have got age limitations to make sure kids do not create their profiles. Despite the age limit set, there are millions of kids who have their profiles on various networking sites and even though their presence is known, nothing much can be done about it.
Mostly, these kids have created profiles by giving wrong birthdates and it is impossible to prove that the child is lying. Though presence of kids on social networking sites is wrong, marketing of products to kids using this platform is unethical.
Presence of huge following of various brands on social networking sites points towards the fact that marketers are exploiting presence of kids on these sites to advertise their products. The companies say that they target teens and their parents, but the huge numbers point out that even kids sneaking into social networking sites are targeted. Even though the products that they advertise seem harmless, even for kids, kids aren’t mature enough to make judgments. So, it kind of marketing is deceiving, just like other forms of marketing targeted towards kids. The studies conducted in December 2011, and February 15, 2012 shows that nearly 75% of the teens in the world are using social networking sites for searching latest trend in fashion, cars, bikes and other things they like. Even though these sites seem to be informative and educational, the long term impact of these can be seriously negative. Some of common social networking playgrounds frequented by kids and teenagers include Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, online communities etc. Not just networking sites for adults is targeted, there are special social networking sites for kids too. Advertisers are also using these sites in a variety of ways to promote their products to kids.
Modern day kids are tech-savvy and browse internet for hours daily. There they come across various advertisements pertaining to gadgets, clothing, toys, games, junk food and many more. The marketers target kids as they can easily lure children with many offers and children on the other hand have pestering power. Kids pester their parents into buying some products and in fact have a great influence of the purchasing pattern and choices of the family.
In order to handle this situation the parents should keep a tab on the activities of their child over the internet and also websites he visits. If, they find that their child has created a profile on an adlt networking side, they should explain to them reasons why networking sites have an age-lock. Kids must also be explained how social media is being used as a platform by advertisers and its negative influence in log run.