40% of children registered as aged 18 or over.
About 80% of 11- to 15-year-old Internet surfers use false ages when visiting social media sites, according to a survey by the UK advertising regulator.
Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has criticised the ‘negligent’ age verification systems adopted by social networking websites such as Facebook.
The survey revealed that about ten children, (42%) registered themselves as aged 18 or over, with nine of them being below the permitted age of registration on at least a social media website.
Out of the 218 ads meant for users above 18 years old, 24 were not suitable for users under 18 including gambling, alcohol, slimming aids and overtly sexual dating services.
However, of the 427 ads seen by the children, about 420 (98.4%) of them adhered to ASA’s advertising policies.
ASA chief executive Guy Parker said on the face of it, the 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?," Parker said.
"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."
ASA reports that Facebook remained the most popular website, delivering 385 of the total of 427 ads viewed by the children, followed by YouTube with 20 ads, Stardoll (16), Spotify (4) and Twitter (2).
The agency would submit findings to its council to explore necessities for strict policies on age-restricted ads in social media, while would also ask the Committee of Advertising Practice, whether new regulation on targeting ads online is required.