If you feel everywhere you look, you see marketing, you are unfortunately not wrong. And while the constant pressure on consumers is worrying for adults, it can be even more worrying and potentially harmful to children. A new study shows that children are bumped into marketing messages in the course of a typical day – up to one brand message per minute.
For the study, researchers at the University of Otago in New Zealand used a new method to quantify the presence of marketing in our children’s lives – they attached cameras to children for a few days and then counted the number of marketing messages the cameras caught. Ninety children, between the ages of 11-13, wore cameras for four days, Thursday-Sunday, that automatically took pictures every seven seconds. The results were picked up, and researchers were shocked to find that children were being bombarded with trademarks. Over the course of one 10-hour day, the children in the study were exposed to 554 branded images, or about one every minute.
Most of the exposure to marketing took place in schools (43%), at home (30%) and in shops (12%). The implications of this study, beyond just “holy cow, that’s too much,” are far-reaching. The children are exposed to twice as many advertisements for products that are harmful as those that are healthy.
The researchers found that children from lower-income environments were exposed to more marketing messages and brand images than those from higher-income backgrounds. Previous research has shown that brand exposure and marketing have a more negative impact on those at the bottom of the economic spectrum than those from more affluent areas. The fact that these children are exposed to more marketing and typically more negative marketing is of particular concern.
Although younger children are not conceptually aware that advertising is actively trying to sell something to them, the more they are exposed to a particular brand or logo, the more familiar they become with that brand, and ultimately, the more they want it. have. This is how children fall for, and also lack of understanding of, “persuasive intent. ” By the age of 10-12, children can understand that advertising is a sales tool, according to Common Sense Media. But before that time, it’s hard for kids to see the intent behind the ad. Corporations can gain a foothold by exposing children to brands early in life – for example, cartoon characters on cereals.
As children get older, marketing becomes more focused, not just on their personal preferences, but on their developmental aptitude. Ads aimed at teens tend to look at their insecurities, while ads for teens and tweens capitalize on their desire for stimulation.
Teach children to think critically and dealing with a healthy dose of skepticism about the ads they see can greatly help mitigate the negative effects of our hyper-consumers, late-stage capitalist world.