Teens have trouble telling between Google ads and search links

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Jon Fingas
November 21, 2015 8:43 PM
Teens have trouble telling between Google ads and search links

You may have have a keen eye for that golden "ad" marker when you're searching Google, but not everyone is so astute. UK watchdog Ofcom has posted a study showing that just 31 percent of kids aged 12 to 15 can tell the difference between a Google search ad and the real results just below them. They also tend to be overly trusting, as 19 percent of those young teens believe that all online results must be true. Not surprisingly, the figures get worse with younger children -- just 16 percent of those aged 8 to 11 know whether they're seeing an ad or a result.

This kind of confusion isn't entirely avoidable, since you still have a lot to learn about the internet at that age... not to mention life in general. However, it suggests that Google isn't doing enough to separate ads from actual content and make sure kids aren't clicking ads by mistake. This is likely true for other search providers and internet services (have you ever been momentarily taken in by a Twitter ad?), but Google could easily be the first to face regulatory scrutiny for its approach.

[Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]

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