post corresponding This is an entry in the discussion, written by an external contributor. The publication expresses the views of the author.
Influencers expose Norwegian children and youth to large amounts of advertising in social media. We should be concerned about it and do something about it. For children to have their own secret rooms is nothing new. But while a few hours of freedom in the woods can lead to a couple of scratches or maybe a smoke in the alley for today’s generation of parents, the digital free space of our time presents more serious challenges for children and young adults.
Almost half of Norwegian nine-year-olds and almost all thirteen-year-olds use social media, according to the Norwegian Children and Media 2022 survey. How much do we really know about the type of content they are exposed to and who their “friends” are in social media?
Read the survey here: Children’s experience with advertising, influencers and social media
Huge commercial impact
On TikTok and Snapchat Kids and teens meet so-called influencers who apply makeup, pump iron, or make cotton candy from frugal ingredients. The fact that parents rarely share their excitement is a little off point. This has always been the case. But there is something new.
The relationship influencers build with children and youth, and what they use their positions for, is disturbing. With the help of the analysis agency Retriever, the Norwegian Media Authority has identified what the 22 most popular influencers among Norwegian children and youth are actually reporting. The result is terrifying:
Many influencers do what they can to establish strong bonds with their followers, almost like that of friends
Almost half of the posts contain ads – for own products, games, services, clothing, beauty products, food and drink. 17 percent of the posts analyzed contained hidden ads. This is especially true of content from foreign influencers.
Because while Norwegian law requires That all advertising and promotional leaflets must be marked, the requirements are not as strict as in other countries. But foreign players must comply with the Norwegian rules if the marketing is aimed at consumers in Norway. The challenge is that it is often difficult to prove that foreign influencers specifically target Norwegian consumers, and if they do not, they are also not covered by Norwegian marketing law.
Business relationships can feel personal
Many influencers do what they can to establish strong bonds with their followers, almost like that of friends. There is talk of “we” and “us,” and the relationship can be personal, real, and mutual.
But in reality, the relationship goes one way: The influencer sells his products, services or ideas. This is how a man like Andrew Tate can spread cold misogynistic attitudes along with burger ads and cryptocurrency paid Mr. Beast.
If you’re wondering how this happens in practice, you can ask your nearest regular store about this week’s social media frenzy. New cheap perfume? Energy drink? Glazed nail polish donut? The shelves are empty anyway.
One in four have received a plastic surgery advertisement. This can contribute to stress in the body
It is easy to listen to the recommendations of friends and acquaintances. Or “friends” and “acquaintances”.
Investigation by the Norwegian Media Authority Children and Media 2022 also documents that children and young people are exposed to large amounts of advertising. More than six in ten children between the ages of 9 and 18 have received advertisements for beauty products, and more than half for weight loss products or bigger muscles. One in four have received a plastic surgery advertisement. All of this can contribute to stress in the body.
Children and young people are at a vulnerable age, many of whom are insecure and easily influenced.
Hidden advertising is prohibited
In Norway, ads are hidden bans. This should influence advertisers, but not least, to take them seriously. They must ensure that marketing is clearly distinguished from other content.
It is especially important when the advertisement is intended for or could be seen by children and young adults. However, there is a great deal of hidden ads. The Norwegian Consumer Protection Authority has supervisory responsibility for social media and has regular monitoring procedures.
In 2022, 63 violations were discovered, in addition to suspected violations in 30 cases.
Strong and clear legislation is important to guarantee the consumer rights of children and young people
Here are the actors It is clearly work that needs to be done. It is a problem in itself that children and young people are under commercial pressure. It gets worse when the lack of stickers makes it impossible to tell that an influencer recommending a product was paid for it.
The Norwegian Consumer Protection Authority tries to tip first, but hidden ads can also lead to financial penalties. New EU regulations prohibit targeting minors. Strong and clear legislation is important to guarantee the consumer rights of children and young people.
The Privacy Commission called for a comprehensive review of the regulations, and luckily the Department of Children and Families announced that this was coming.
A new EU digital services law, the Digital Services Act (DSA), will strengthen users’ rights on social media. It would be easier to remove illegal content in Norway, and marketing to minors would be banned. The DSA will also be implemented in Norway, and it will be important to put in place effective supervision with sufficient resources, within the framework now established at the European level.
Young people need effective protection
Neither parents nor supervisory authorities He will invade the private rooms of young people and fill every nook and cranny with spotlights. The videos of cotton candy auditions and crazy stunts can be left alone. But young people need effective consumer protection.
The legislation must be clear and it must be implemented effectively. This makes it easier to protect children and young adults from commercial influence and allow them to maintain some digital reserves.
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