Watchdog calls for new rules on sponsored Instagram posts involving the children of influencers
Ombudsman for Children’s comments come as Penneys stands over policy of paying parents
The children’s watchdog has warned that youngsters who appear in sponsored Instagram posts should be protected by new advertising standards regulations.
Children’s Ombudsman Dr Niall Muldoon has called for a “gap” in guidelines to be closed, and referred specifically to instances where parents are paid.
It came as Penneys stood over its policy of paying influencers who use their children to advertise the store’s clothes on social media.
Penneys does not enter into influencer contracts with anyone under the age of 18, but the children of Irish influencers can be filmed wearing Penneys’ clothes as part of Instagram advertising deals with their parents.
The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland has guidelines that say children should not be shown in unsafe or indecent situations online.
But there is no guidance regulating if, or how, parents should include their children in sponsored posts. A spokeswoman for the ASAI said it was “not aware of any other current guidance from an ASAI code perspective that would be applicable in this area”.
Dr Muldoon told the Irish Independent he believed there may be a gap in social media guidelines for children, which needed to be closed.
“With the growth in social media, it is not surprising to see children feature in content with their parents,” he said. “It is for parents, with their children, to decide what is appropriate for them, and to consider what is in the best interests of their child.
“However, where paid advertising is involved, standards and guidelines are needed to help brands and organisations promote and protect the best interests of children.
“I am aware that section seven of the ASAI code, which concerns children and which includes a number of matters relating to advertising featuring children, applies to all types of advertising, including online advertising.
“However, I am not aware of specific standards or guidance that is focused on advising brands and organisations about their responsibilities in relation to children in circumstances where influencers are paid to advertise a product online and on social media, and include their child or children in the posts concerned. If there is a gap here, it is important that it be addressed, and in a child-centred way.”
There have been instances where Irish influencers have featured their own children on social media when being paid to promote products or brands.
This has happened in a number of posts paid for by Penneys, where children of influencers were filmed wearing clothes by the international budget clothing brand.
A spokesperson for Primark, which trades as Penneys in Ireland, has said it does not enter into influencer contracts with anyone under the age of 18.
But Primark told the Irish Independent that influencers who feature their own children in paid social-media posts advertising Penneys’ children’s clothes are not in breach of the store’s policies.
“Primark requires all influencers that we engage with to comply with all applicable laws, rules and codes of practice, including guidance issued by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland,” a spokesperson said.
“We require all social media posts created by engaged influencers to be socially responsible, not harmful to any person and not illegal, and we do not enter into influencer contracts with anyone under the age of 18.
“We have no imminent plans to change our policies. However, we are committed to regularly reviewing how we work with influencers in line with best practices and guidelines.”