Written by Jacqueline Woven
It seems like everything is targeted towards our kids these days. You can’t walk into a major retailer without seeing the latest toy or movie tie-in right at their eye level and if they watch any TV, the commercials know their sweet spot. What about social media? Is there an age that is too young or too old for social?
Most social media platforms don’t allow kids under 13, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t on there or seeing them. Especially if they are using any of the streaming video services – those commercials are tied right to them and what they want out of life (or think they want!). Advertisers and marketing agencies know that a kid who wants something is bound to ask over and over for that item – and getting them used to advertising in all of the things that they see and do is part of their strategy.
Teaching Little Ones About Social
As a smart parent you have to educate your kids about what is an advertisement and what is real. They probably can’t see the hashtag #ad or read the fine print so it is up to you to be their guide. Letting them know what is essentially a commercial, even when it doesn’t look like one because it is on social media, is one of the skills that you can teach them to be smart consumers and they can start learning that as young as four years old.
Teens are the primary target market: they can legally get on most social platforms at 13 and they are targeted immediately for everything from movies, snack food and apps to clothes and colleges. Because they might not have been using social starting at 4, it is a good idea to talk to them about advertising and what is an ad versus what is a real post or video. Targeting teens isn’t new – they were hustled with hula hoops and Frisbees in the 50’s – it has just gotten slicker.
Boomers and The Greatest Generation Online
What about the older folks on the social spectrum? They too are targets for everything from AARP to supplements. If you are in the sandwich generation and have little ones at home and your parents are pushing 60+, you have a big job on your hands educating not just the littles, but the older folks about what is an ad and what is a real post on social media. Protecting those not raised in the digital age becomes the responsibility of friends and family.
Raising Digital Citizens
We all want our family – young and old – to enjoy the wonder of the internet. Learning about new products is part of that landscape. We just have to remember that they are vulnerable and might not understand the new blurred lines of what social media marketing allows. Talk to your kids and parents and let them know that they can come to you when they aren’t sure about what they are seeing or reading. You will be their trusted source as they will continue to be easy targets for digital marketing.
About the Author: Jacqueline Wolven, an AARP speaker, Huffington Post writer, and Main Street Director for Eureka Springs, Arkansas, is the author of her own life and maybe someday an actual published book. She writes about living simply and doing good work with relentless authenticity (her current projects include small town marketing, personal branding, small business marketing, entrepreneur coaching and keeping those around her accountable with the #30DayChallenge). She is available for consulting with your organization and speaking nationwide. Follow her on Twitter @jackiewolven, on Facebook at Jackie Wolven and at http://jacquelinewolven.com.