Insights Advertising Standards Authority publishes its “100 Children Report” showing how UK children use mobile phones and tablets


The ASA’s 100 Children Report provides an insight into UK children’s real-world mobile phone and tablet use, the platforms and sites they visit and the ads they are exposed to over the course of one week.

The study found that of the 11,424 occasions when an online ad was served to the personal devices of the ASA’s children’s panel, 435 (3.8% of the total) related to an alcohol, gambling or other age-restricted ad. Of these, there were 73 occasions (0.6% of the total number) when the ad was served in likely breach of the UK targeting rules. The ASA says that it is following up with the 30 advertisers behind these ads (and the platforms, where relevant) to corroborate the findings and, as necessary, secure remedial action and assurances of future compliance.

The ASA says that the study also adds significantly to societal understanding of the prevalence and consequences of children registering with false dates of birth on social media. For example, the findings suggest that at least 11% of children’s social media accounts are registered with a date of birth that falsely suggests the account holder is 18 or older; as a likely consequence, the study found that these accounts received 47% of all the age-restricted ads captured in the study, almost two-thirds more than children registered with a child’s age.

To mitigate the risks associated with these nominally adult accounts, the ASA says that it expects advertisers and their agencies to use a combination of targeting tools, and not to rely entirely on age data, to ensure they are doing everything they can to serve their age-restricted ads to an adult audience and away from a child audience. It will be following up with the 65 advertisers who were behind the 261 occasions when an age-restricted ad was provided to these accounts and to other sites where more than 75% of the audience were adult to ensure they are adhering to CAP’s new guidance on targeting age-restricted ads online.

The ASA hopes that information provided in this study Report will help to better inform debate about the effectiveness and the proportionality of the rules that currently restrict ads for alcohol, gambling, foods high in fat, salt or sugar and other age-restricted ads. Findings from the report also underline the importance of advertisers, agencies and other marketing intermediaries acting collectively to appropriately limit children’s exposure to ads for alcohol, gambling and other age-restricted ads online. To read the ASA’s press release in full and for a link to the Report, click here