For the most part, the internet doesn’t know how old your child is. That’s mostly a good thing. If a predator or some other person up to no good is looking for an “internet user” who is a child or teen of a certain age, you don’t want your child to be found.
Internet advertisers also want very much to know how old your child is, and they have some tools at their disposal. Targeted ads, by age or any other data available, are much more efficient for advertisers. They will use whatever information is at hand to get to their desired target audience.
When it comes to legitimate advertisers, it’s mostly good if they know approximately how old your kids are in one specific way. You’d rather not have your child seeing ads for alcohol and other adult products.
All that being said, if advertisers are guessing which ads your kids should see, or have determined that your child is an adult based on her internet activity, there is help available.
Facebook and Google, tow of the biggest internet advertising platforms in existence, make it fairly easy to help your child control which type of ads she sees.
Here’s how to control which ads Google and YouTube show you:
Here are the categories that Google thinks I’m interested in:
You can find yours by CLICKING HERE (make sure you are logged into Google). If you don’t want ads on a certain category you can uncheck the box, and the change is saved automatically.
According to Google the list is compiled based on my Google search history, my YouTube video viewing history but not my Gmail history. Gmail ads are served by a different platform.
At the bottom of that page, there is a button labeled “Control Signed Out Ads”. If you click on that, you have the option to turn off interest-based ads on Google sites and off. For children and teens, we don’t recommending turning that off, because your kid is still going to see ads, but the chances will increase she will be exposed to adult ads.
Here’s how to control which ads Facebook shows you:
Below is a screen shot of the ad categories that Facebook has chosen for me. You can see yours by CLICKING HERE while you’re logged into Facebook.
For each category, you can click it and a list of subcategories will appear. You can unclick any that are inappropriate or that you don’t care about.
By the way, Facebook collects a whole lot of information about you, and they’re free to use it. For example, If you “Like” Starbucks on Facebook, they could take one of your photos and put it in a Starbucks ad. I turned off that setting by CLICKING HERE. (see below)
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