Media Smart helps children spot ads in influencer posts

Educational pack shows children how to identify the link between social influencers and brands

The advertising industry’s education programme Media Smart has launched a new resource to help children understand the commercial link between social influencers and the brands they may be promoting.

The rising numbers of social influencers in young people’s lives has prompted Media Smart to create a film-based PSHE teaching resource for 11-14-year olds, the first of its kind to tackle this area of marketing. Watch a clip of the film below: 

The Influencer Marketing Education resource has been developed by education insight specialists EdComs. It features popular youth influencers like Hannah Witton talking about what influencer marketing is, why brands use it and its regulations. Other topics covered by the short films – that see influencers talking directly to young people – include how to critically evaluate social media content, how to identify paid for promotions/adverts and the use of airbrushing and filters in content.

The films will be supported by teacher guidance and a presentation for use in assemblies or the classroom. Students will explore and evaluate the purpose and techniques of influencer marketing, with the aim of building digital and media literacy and emotional resilience.

"Social influencers are an increasing presence in the young people’s lives and have a positive role to play in advising and sharing their experiences with their followers,” said Hannah Witton, YouTuber, Broadcaster and Author.

“But with that growing presence comes an important responsibility to help children identify whether what they are seeing is an advert or not. This is even more critical when it comes to crucial issues like body image and promoting body positivity. It may not always be obvious if influencers have used airbrushing or filters on the images they post of themselves. Young people need to be educated about this and understand what they see isn’t always real.”

While young people have some understanding of the commercial relationship between brands and influencers, according to Rachel Barber-Mack, Director of Media Smart, there are still significant gaps in knowledge.

“Our objective is to help children fill in these gaps to ensure they build their digital and media literacy and ultimately their emotional resilience,” she said. “When putting together these resources, it was clear that the best way to educate them was through youth influencers themselves and I am grateful for their contribution. I would also urge any brands that work with influencers to join us in our mission and help make children social influencer smart.”

The IAB is a member of MediaSmart and sit on its steering committee. Sitting under the wing of the Advertising Association, it is a media literacy programme that promotes education and understanding of advertising to children and young people.

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