Social media giants made $11 billion in ad revenue from US children: Study

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Social media giants raked in $11 billion in advertising revenue from children based in the United States, a Harvard-led study recently found.

A study released Wednesday from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health revealed that Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, YouTube, and X, formerly Twitter, generated billions of dollars in ad revenue in 2022 from American minors and youth.

“This study aimed to estimate the number of U.S.-based child (0–12 years old) and adolescent (13–17 years old) users and the annual advertising revenue generated from youth across six major platforms,” the study explained.

In 2022, nearly 50 million minors used YouTube, 7 million used X, and 9.9 million used Facebook. Approximately 18 million were on Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok.

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“The greatest advertising revenue profits derived children ages 0–12 years old was from YouTube ($959.1 million), followed by Instagram ($801.1 million) and Facebook ($137.2 million). Among youth ages 13–17 years old, the greatest estimated advertising revenue was generated on Instagram ($4 billion), TikTok ($2 billion), and YouTube ($1.2 billion),” the study revealed.

The report stated that youth-generated ad revenue accounted for 41.4% of Snapchat’s entire 2022 ad revenue, 35% of TikTok’s, 27% of YouTube’s, 16% of Instagram’s, 1.9% of Facebook’s, and 2% of X’s. Across the social media platforms, approximately $2.1 billion of ad revenue was generated by children 12 years old and younger, while roughly $8.6 billion was generated by youth between 13 and 17 years old, the report claimed.

It contended that the federal government’s efforts to protect children online have “largely failed” due to “substantial resistance” from social media giants.

“Our findings underscore the financial incentive for platforms to oppose government efforts to protect youth,” the report noted.

“We undertook this study to inform health researchers and policymakers about how much revenue is generated from youth users and how many children and adolescents actively use the major social media platforms, with a goal to inspire greater data transparency and political will to protect young people online. Our estimates suggest that social media platforms derive considerable profits from youth users, emphasizing the need for greater transparency and regulation of their practices to ameliorate potential harms to youth mental health,” it concluded.

Bryan Austin, senior author and professor with Harvard’s Department of Social and Behavior Sciences, stated, “As concerns about youth mental health grow, more and more policymakers are trying to introduce legislation to curtail social media platform practices that may drive depression, anxiety, and disordered eating in young people.”

“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, and our study suggests they have overwhelming financial incentives to continue to delay taking meaningful steps to protect children,” Austin added.

Meta, Google, Snapchat, X, and TikTok did not respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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