49% of parents say ads shouldn’t target kids

Almost half (49%) of parents think advertising should not target children, research from YouGov SixthSense shows.

The ‘Marketing to Children’ report explores consumer attitudes to selling goods to under-17s. While 49% of parents believe adverts should not be targeted at children, almost four in ten (39%) think children need to learn what advertising is and more than a fifth (21%) consider it acceptable to advertise to kids as long as they do not promote unhealthy foods.

As well as speaking to parents, the YouGov SixthSense report also asked young people about how they view advertising and how it influences their decisions on products. The results show that almost all (92%) children understand that adverts are trying to sell them something.

The YouGov SixthSense research found that the power of advertising to sway children’s choices varies depending in the product and word of mouth is still the biggest factor when they decide what to get. Almost six in ten (59%) children say their peers influence their decision about what video games and toys to buy while almost half (48% say television advertising plays a role in their choice.

However, although the pattern is repeated when it comes to traditional toys and games, the impact of both peers and TV is diminished. More than four in ten (43%) see their friends as the most likely form of influence on their choices while a quarter (25%) cite television advertising as a factor in making a decision.

James McCoy, YouGov SixthSense Research Director, says: “Advertising is a major part of everyone’s lives – both adults and children – and its influence cannot be underestimated. Although parents are concerned about the corrosive effect it may have on their children, the large number of kids that already understand that ads are designed to sell implies that adults cannot control the influence advertising has on their offspring.”

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