According to Harvard University’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, in 2022, the leading social media platforms generated almost $1 billion in combined revenue from users in the U.S. aged 18 and below.
‘Although social media platforms may claim that they can self-regulate their practices to reduce the harms to young people, they have yet to do so. Our study suggests they have overwhelming financial incentives to continue to delay taking meaningful steps to protect children,’ said Bryn Austin, senior author of the study.
The purpose of the study was to determine the approximate amount social media platforms can make from ad revenue generated by minors in the U.S. from various mobile apps and various sites.
Using public surveys and market research data from 2021 and 2022, the relationship between young users and ad revenue for leading social media platforms was estimated. A simulation model was created to determine the likely ages of young users and the revenues.
The study indicated that in 2022, uses under age 18 generated the most ad revenue on Instagram with $4 billion, TikTok with $2 billion, and YouTube with $1.2 billion. The study also revealed the number of young users on the leading social media platforms: YouTube had 49.7 million minor users, TikTok had 18.9 million, Snapchat had 18 million, Instagram had 16.7 million, Facebook had 9.9 million, and X (Twitter) had 7 million.
Because social media platforms do not publish data on the ages of their users or the ad revenue they generate according to age groups, the researchers had to rely on estimations and projections by public surveys and market researchers.
‘Our finding that social media platforms generate substantial advertising revenue from youth highlights the need for greater data transparency as well as public health interventions and government regulations,’ said Amanda Raffoul, lead author.
The findings of the study support recent efforts to prevent curtail harmful effects of social media on youths.
In October, Meta was sued by 42 state attorney generals for allegedly targeting minors with addictive content. Similar lawsuits were also filed by nine other attorney generals.
Meta is just one of multiple social media publishers facing such lawsuits.
The lawsuits are alleging that social media platforms have become a major cause of mental health issues in young people such as anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
By Marvellous Iwendi