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Advertising and Children

Advertising and Children is specifically designed to supplement work currently being prepared by the Broadcasting Division of the Broadcasting Commission of Ireland (BCI) on the Code for advertising and children. Working paper from the BCI by Dr. Ruth-Blandina M. Quinn, Research Officer.

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By purpose and design, therefore, the balance in this working paper is tilted firmly towards information provision and thus, away from information dissemination. In this way, it sets the scene, introduces the subject matter, identifies the key players and current rules while highlighting the problems contained therein.

Introducing the reader to the scene, Section 2 illustrates the sheer breadth of the subject that is ‘Advertising and Children’. Surveying central themes, it identifies many principal findings and arguments characterising this area of research. Themes traced through include the perceived effect of advertising on children; viewing patterns and the consequences of the recent upsurge in television ownership; the perceived effect of advertising on households when channelled through children; principal arguments vis-à-vis why it is believed that children should be protected from commercial messages.

In this section, not only is the wealth of research considered but the different backgrounds of researchers working in this area is also revealed. Attention is drawn to the fact that little common ground exists between many of the results proposed. When these factors are taken into account, one sees that for every finding there is evidence available by which to contradict it. As will be seen, this compounds the complex nature of this topic rather than simplifying it.

Moving on, Section 3 draws attention to the language used in the area of ‘Advertising and Children’. In particular, the central terms of ‘child’, ‘advertising’, ‘children’s advertising’, and ‘sponsorship’ are considered. Throughout, the importance of clarity in defining such key terms is emphasised.

Consideration of the evolution of the ‘regulatory framework’ in Ireland forms the basis of Section 4. Main influences are identified with a brief synopsis of each provided.

Section 5 broadens out the arena. Here the spectrum of opinions regarding advertising and children is identified. More specifically, the reader is introduced to the notion of using bans to restrict this area of commercial activity and the arguments that accompany such actions. At the other end of the scale, arguments in favour of advertising to children are considered. Throughout this section, the material is presented in a style designed to allow the reader to consider the varying arguments. Accepting the validity of those arguments, however, is left very much at the discretion of the reader and it is suggested is open to further debate.

A brief overview of Irish research is provided in Section 6. Here the results of a search for materials which are culturally specific to Ireland are provided. Section 7 brings this paper to a close by providing a brief summary of all information reviewed.


1. Introduction

2. Advertising and Children

2.1. Focus of present research

2.2. Television viewing patterns

2.3. Distinguishing advertising from programme content

2.4. Influence of advertising on child’s life

2.5. The power of advertising as compared to other influences

2.6. Reliability of research

Concluding remarks

3. The Importance of Clear Definition

3.1. ‘Child’

3.2. ‘Advertising’

3.3. ‘Children’s advertising’

3.4. ‘Sponsorship’

Concluding remarks

4. Regulatory Framework

4.1. Europe

4.2. International

4.3. Irish statutory provisions

4.4. Industry self-regulation

Concluding remarks

5. To Ban or Not to Ban?

5.1. Those who choose to ban

5.2. The alternative view of advertising and children

Concluding remarks

6. Overview of Irish Research

6.1. DGEAC (2000), Study on the Impact of Advertising and Teleshopping on Minors – Ireland

6.2. Advertising Education Forum (2000), Parental Perceptions of Influences in their children’s lives

6.3. Institute of Advertising Practitioners in Ireland (1999), Youth Scape – Youth Attitudes and Opinions

Concluding remarks



To read this paper in full click here.

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