Children's viewing time may increase requests for advertised products

Children who spend more time watching television and movies and playing video games may be more likely to ask their parents for toys, food and drinks they saw in advertisements, according to a study in the April issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, a theme issue on children and the media.

The average American child will see more than 40,000 television commercials every year, as well as product placements on TV and in other forms of media, according to background information in the article. Studies have shown that advertising influences children's preferences and requests beginning at a young age. "Since parents control family budgets, child requests are important forces for family spending and may negatively impact interactions between parents and children," the authors write.

Lisa J. Chamberlain, M.D., M.P.H., and colleagues at the Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, Calif., evaluated the connection between screen media exposure and requests for advertised products in a group of 827 third-graders at 12 elementary schools in Northern California. Children who enrolled in the study were interviewed on two weekdays during the fall of their third-grade year (September to October 1999), and again in the spring of third grade, the fall of fourth grade and the spring of fourth grade. They were asked how much time they spent watching television, watching movies or videos on a VCR and playing video games during one or two days of the previous week. They also reported whether, in the past week, they had asked someone to buy them food, drinks or toys they had seen on television. If they said yes, researchers had them write the names of up to four specific products.

Overall, children in the study logged more than 22 hours of total screen time per week, including more than 10 hours of TV. They reported making about one request each week for toys and more than one request every two weeks for food or drinks. Children

Contact: Robert Dicks
JAMA and Archives Journals

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