Advertising to children

According to a new report, children are far from vulnerable when it comes to advertising

Jeremy Hardman

Children are at the forefront of the revolution in electronic media. Indeed, they are society's first computer-literate generation. They are among the most active users of cable, satellite, the Internet and Videonet, and pressure to extend family media and communication capabilities more often than not stems from the interest, even knowledge, of children, rather than their parents.

As well as being computer-literate, today's children are increasingly advertising-literate. Research, using non-verbal interviewing techniques, shows that, irrespective of the medium, children from as young as three years old can recognise the persuasive intent of advertising. While at this early age, they can verbalise the role of advertising as 'they're trying to get me to buy it', by the age of five or six this has developed into 'they are trying to sell me something'. By seven, most children are capable of understanding exactly what advertisers are trying to achieve and, by ten, children have become adept critics and prove to be a hard - even cynical - audience to influence.