It's easy to get influenced online by people you look up to

  • Awareness
  • 14/12/2016
  • Ida, Swedish youth panellist

Hearing the views and the voices of youth is an important part of the work we do in aiming to create a better internet for kids. As part of our December 2016 edition of the BIK bulletin, which focuses on online adverting and the commercialisation of childhood, we asked some of our youth panellists their views. Here, 16-year-old Ida from Sweden has her say.

You cannot enter the world of social media and not run into some sort of advertisement. If you are scrolling down your Instagram stream or watching a YouTube video, advertising keeps popping up. Some adverts are more effective than others in their way of making us want to buy more. Your online world is created from the things you click on and like so, therefore, the advertisements shown are also customised to you.

I'm the kind of person that doesn't by a lot of stuff online, but the advertisements I see online definitely influence my purchasing habits overall. There are some YouTubers that I watch and I would say that half of the time when they advertise, I click on the links to check out the product. I wouldn't say that I buy so much from online advertisements, but the thing that gets me interested is when it includes some sort of discount or special offer.

The businesses behind online advertisements use smart ways to sell their brands, often by using famous people that have a big influence over today's youth. If you see someone online that you look up to - or indeed, the people in your surroundings look up to – it's easy to be influenced by them. This has a positive effect on the companies which are selling products, but not always on the young people. For example, accounts that young people follow on Instagram often portray an unattainable lifestyle and not everyone will have the economic means to buy all of the items that the people on the different accounts show. And, what most young people do not know is that all of these things mostly include some sort of advertisement.

I would say that it has a negative impact on children and young people. Since most of the YouTubers that young people watch are financed by advertising, their videos often include advertisements, presented in different ways. Those YouTubers and other influential people on social media create trends and ideals that young people want to live up to. As I mentioned before, it has a bad impact on the economy but also on society. People with influence on social media have a big impact on young people. If they are showing something they like or prefer, there will be lots of young people out there who would like to have that something as well. It often creates trends, which most of the times leads to a stream on what you ‘should be' that it is hard to swim against. I think this is particularly a problem among the younger ages where people maybe haven't found out who they are yet and so easily follow the stream. I think that also, in the long run, it can have a bad influence on society's view on what you should buy so that you can reach a certain social status.

Advertising online can be good in some ways, such as for inspiration. But, most of the time, it is all in favour of the business behind the advertisement. It's easy to get influenced online by people you look up to.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Better Internet for Kids Portal, European Schoolnet, the European Commission or any related organisations or parties.

 

About the author of this article:

 

Ida (16) goes to school in Sweden where she works with the internet every day. In 2014, Ida represented her country in the youth panel at the Safer Internet Forum (SIF) in Brussels and, following that, became a youth ambassador. Ida thinks it's important to listen to what youth all over the world has to say about the internet, because it's such a big part of our lives. She feels that the opinions of young people are just as important as those of adults and that both parties working together will achieve the best results.


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