Children as consumers and their vulnerability to food advertising

Barrett, Martin (2013) Children as consumers and their vulnerability to food advertising. BA dissertation, University of Portsmouth.

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    The role children play in our modern society has changed dramatically in recent times. Children were originally viewed as future consumers with no form of income, today they have the influence over billions of dollars of not just their own money but also their parents. It is estimated that in the United States alone children under the age of 12 account for $25 billion spent annually, while also possibly influencing a further $200 billion (French, 2004). Much of this change was spurred on by the baby boom of the 1950’s. Prior to this the majority of the world were engaged in a World War. Depression and poverty were rife; the end of the War in 1945 couldn’t have come soon enough. The jubilation of the War being over, combined with a stronger, more powerful economy led to many couples feeling a need to make up for the years that they had lost, and so the baby boom began. The under-five population increased to a staggering 16,163,000 by 1950, the equivalent of a 60% increase in 10 years (McNeal, 1987). With more and more families joining the middle class through out Europe and the United States, children’s spending money steadily rose. The increase in spending was clearly evident and thus the child consumer market was born. Arguably the most damaging sector to this market is the Food industry, and even more specific than that the Fast Food industry. Their products are notoriously high in sugar and fat, whilst also being renowned for using cheap, mass-produced meat. They falsely promote their products under the pretence of them being ‘fun’, garnering brand loyalty at a very early stage in the child’s life. Studies have proven that children below the age of 8 are very susceptible to advertising techniques due to their brains not being fully developed (French, 2004) (John, 1998). This information has been widely recognised since the 1974 FCC (The Federal Communications Commission) inquiry, where they reported that children, especially young children, apparently have considerable difficulty distinguishing commercial from program matter (Meringoff, 1976).

    Item Type: Dissertation
    Departments/Research Groups: Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries > School of Art and Design
    Depositing User: Jane Polwin
    Date Deposited: 06 Jan 2014 14:18
    Last Modified: 28 Jan 2015 12:32

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