Social Media’s Secret Revenue from Kids Exposed

In this post:

  • A Harvard study uncovers $11 billion earned by major social media platforms from ads targeting kids, fueling calls for government action.
  • YouTube and Instagram led in earnings, with $959.1 million and $4 billion, respectively, from children and teens.
  • Snapchat and TikTok also earned substantial revenue from minors, raising concerns about industry self-regulation and better protection.

In a recent study conducted by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, it has been revealed that major social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, X (formerly Twitter), and YouTube, collectively raked in a staggering $11 billion in advertising revenue from minors in the United States last year. 

These findings have sparked a renewed call for government intervention to regulate social media, as it appears that self-regulation by the industry has fallen short.

The financial incentive for regulation

The study’s results underscore the pressing need for government oversight of social media, particularly concerning its impact on children and adolescents. Researchers argue that past government efforts to establish robust protections for young users have encountered significant resistance from industry players. 

The newfound data demonstrates a substantial financial incentive for social media platforms to oppose government initiatives to safeguard youth.

Researchers combined multiple data sources, including U.S. Census population data and survey information from Common Sense Media and Pew Research, to arrive at these striking figures. They complemented these sources with insights from Insider Intelligence and Qustodio, a parental control app. 

By combining these datasets, the researchers estimated the annual advertising revenue generated by the six major platforms in 2022 and the time children spent on each platform.

Social media advertising revenue by platform

While the platforms do not publicly disclose the revenue earned from minors, the Harvard report estimates their earnings. Among children aged 12 and under, YouTube topped the list with an estimated $959.1 million in advertising revenue, followed by Instagram with $801.1 million and Facebook with $137.2 million. 

Instagram was the leader for users aged 13 to 17, generating approximately $4 billion in advertising revenue, followed by TikTok at $2 billion and YouTube at $1.2 billion.

Platform-specific revenue sources

Notably, Snapchat stood out, with 41.4% of its advertising revenue 2022 estimated to come from users aged 17 and under. TikTok followed closely with 35%, while YouTube and Instagram accounted for 27% and 16% of their advertising revenue from this demographic, respectively. In contrast, Facebook and Twitter reported lower percentages, with only 1.9% and 2.0% of their total annual advertising revenue attributed to users aged 17 and under.

The substantial revenue generated by social media platforms from minors has raised concerns about the influence these platforms have on young users and the potential risks they face. Critics argue that the industry’s self-regulation has been inadequate in protecting vulnerable users, making government intervention necessary.

Call for government action

The study’s findings have ignited calls for government action to safeguard the well-being of children and adolescents in the digital age. Given the financial incentives at play, proponents of regulation argue that relying solely on the goodwill of social media companies is insufficient.

As discussions about regulating social media platforms gain momentum, how governments will address this issue remains to be seen. The Harvard study provides valuable data that sheds light on the extent of advertising revenue generated from minors and underscores the need for comprehensive regulation.

Disclaimer: The information provided is not trading advice. Cryptopolitan.com holds no liability for any investments made based on the information provided on this page. We strongly recommend independent research and/or consultation with a qualified professional before making any investment decision

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