The aunt of a 12-year-old girl has shared screenshots online of the adverts her niece was served up on Instagram during the course of a day.
Many were based mostly around fashion or beauty.
The girl, who is just close to turn 13 – the minimum age for Instagram – has recently joined the social network.
Instagram said its ads are based on a number of factors, as well as who the account holder follows, and other websites they visit.
The girl’s aunt, author Tamsin Winter, said she was “saddened” by the ads, and claims they do not reflect the interests of her niece, who she described as sporty and academic.
Ms. Winter had asked her for the screenshots, as she was getting ready to give a talk about body image and confidence.
“I expected a bit of a variety – there was no range whatsoever, every single ad was about beauty or fashion,” she told the BBC.
“Even one which was promoting something healthy, like gym wear – the model isn’t doing anything healthy, she’s wiggling with her hair.”
Instagram’s ad policy states that health, fitness and weight loss ads must be targeted at those aged over 18.
“There are many things you think about with your children on social media, however advertising isn’t really one of them,” said Ms. Winter.
“I told her, ‘I hope you know it’s not the case that beauty is all that matters’.
Analyst Jack Kent, from IHS Markit, said social media advertising tends to be based on anonymized information reflecting the account holder’s interests online, alongside other data, like which device they’re using and their location.
“The placement of specific ads on a user’s newsfeed will be based on that profile, and of course an advertiser’s willingness to pay for targeting that sort of user,” he said.
If you’re an Instagram user and you’d wish to see which ad categories the platform has assigned to you, go to the settings menu in the app, then follow this path: Security / Access data / Ads / Ads Interest.
Tamsin Winters has also found out that her niece did receive a broader vary of adverts than she originally believed. Additionally to the thirteen adverts mentioned, she also saw ads for trainers, chocolates, a drink and women’s football.