The lower age limit for using Instagram is 13 years. Based on the profile information of an Instagram account it is, however, impossible to determine whether the user is of legal age or not. Companies ought to carefully consider to whom they direct their targeted marketing on Instagram and who’s content they like, and which accounts they follow.
Marketing targeting minors is not categorically forbidden, and it isn’t illegal (except considering for example tobacco products, alcohol, tattoos or cosmetic surgery). When the marketing targets minors the protected status of minors as targets of marketing and producers of content, as well as restrictions on the content of marketing, based on these facts, must be considered. The good will and accordance with good practice is reviewed more strictly the younger the children in question are.
According to 2:2 in the Finnish law on Consumer Protection, marketing is in breach of good practice, if it is in clear violation with the commonly accepted values in society. Marketing targeting minors or marketing that reaches minors is in breach of good practice especially, 1) if it takes advantage of the impunity or gullibility of minors, 2) if it is likely to negatively affect the balanced development of minors, 3) if its purpose is to bypass the possibility for parents to fully raise their children. When reviewing the breach of good practice, the development and age of the children the marketing reaches, as well as other circumstances, must be considered. According to the government bill 32/2008 the particular circumstances of every individual case, including the medium used and the way in which the marketing is carried out, is taken into account when reviewing the breach of good practice.
The critical thinking and media literacy of minors is often still developing, which is why minors are more susceptible to the devices and effects of marketing than adults are. A responsible marketer should therefore respect the gullibility and impunity of minors.
Most commonly the right for parents to raise their children and good practice is breached for example when marketing targeting children or reaching children (see more here ):
discriminates by insulting or oppressing one gender;
shows scary content to children or uses violence;
shows improper behavior patterns or encourages children to do something dangerous to themselves or other people;
gives children a mental picture that dignity, quality of life and good social relations can be bought; or
puts blame on parents by offering the purchasing of a product as a way to succeed as a parent
It is good to remember that marketing including a direct encouragement to children to buy a consumer product or the persuasion of parents or other adults into buying the marketed product to children is viewed as the type of forbidden aggressive actions defined in the (Finnish) law on Consumer Protection.
If you are interested in the subject, I recommend the seminar ”Markkinoinnin tunnistettavuus – tunne pelisäännöt” arranged by Alma Talent where I will be speaking.