The Child Consumer: When do they realise what an advert really is?

With Christmas just gone, our TV screens have been filled with a flurry of advertisements. Many of these are directed at children. But, when do we learn when we are being advertised to? Children around the world are exposed to thousands of advertisements each year, including those directed specifically at them and those aimed at adults that reach kids indirectly.

Children develop a progressively more sophisticated awareness of the purpose of TV ads as they grow. Children under 5 have little understanding; they will either say they do not know, or that advertisements are just to provide an opportune break between programmes. Some even think it is for the TV show characters to have a rest!

It’s only from around 5-6-years that children can distinguish TV ads from programmes and appreciate that ads are a source of information. They do not, however, appreciate the persuasive nature and are likely to accept an advertising message as an unbiased information source. By 5, children can identify the vast majority of adverts that are aimed at both their own age group and adults.

At about 7-8-years, children begin to understand the persuasive intent of advertising, and that they aim to make us spend money. Between 7-9, children understand that adverts are made in order to sell products. By the age of 11, still only 40% of children understand adverts’ persuasive intent. It Is also around this time that children begin to appreciate specific products have specific prices.

It is important to understand the effects of advertisements on a variety of different audiences, including children. Emotional Logic offers a range of tools that measure the conscious and subconscious effects of advertising. For a free tool demo please: Email us.

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