Drug Education News

News and views from the Drug Education Forum

Research – Young People and the Media

bjdpTwo pieces of research for you from the British Journal of Developmental Psychology, via the Research Digest blog.

First up the abstract of Television alcohol advertising: Do children really mean what they say?:

Few studies have investigated children’s responses to television alcohol advertising. Two separate studies evaluated the appeal of alcohol advertisements on children aged 7-10. An exploratory interview study (N=17) was carried out to assess children’s verbal responses to both alcohol and non-alcohol advertisements and to elicit vocabulary to be used in the second study. Whilst the 7-8 years old children were very positive about the alcohol advertisements, older children did not like them, nor did they perceive them to be effective. The second study was designed to assess children’s implicit knowledge, in view of developmental theory that knowledge is not always available for verbal report. This study (N=179) used a simple categorization programme on computer. Using this methodology, children of all ages liked the alcohol advertisements and perceived them as effective. Advertising styles affected popularity with humour, cartoon format or the inclusion of an animal, or character increasing the appeal of an advertisement. The discussion draws attention to the importance of multiple methodologies in eliciting valid and accurate information from children, and to policy matters with regard to alcohol advertising regulation.

See also this earlier research which suggests the format of adverts can be particularly attractive to young people.

Second, and slightly tangentially, Young children’s ability to recognize advertisements in web page designs:

Identifying what is, and what is not an advertisement is the first step in realizing that an advertisement is a marketing message. Children can distinguish television advertisements from programmes by about 5 years of age. Although previous researchers have investigated television advertising, little attention has been given to advertisements in other media, even though other media, especially the Internet, have become important channels of marketing to children. We showed children printed copies of invented web pages that included advertisements, half of which had price information, and asked the children to point to whatever they thought was an advertisement. In two experiments we tested a total of 401 children, aged 6, 8, 10 and 12 years of age, from the United Kingdom and Indonesia. Six-year-olds recognized a quarter of the advertisements, 8-year-olds recognized half the advertisements, and the 10- and 12-year-olds recognized about three-quarters. Only the 10- and 12-year-olds were more likely to identify an advertisement when it included a price. We contrast our findings with previous results about the identification of television advertising, and discuss why children were poorer at recognizing web page advertisements. The performance of the children has implications for theories about how children develop an understanding of advertising.

I raise the latter article because we have seen other research that says that the amount of alcohol advertising young people see can be correlated to their drinking behaviour (see also here).  We’ve also seen research that suggests that young people understanding marketing could have a positive impact particularly around tobacco.

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Filed under: advertising, media

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