March 1, 2012

Example of Exaggerated Impact of Advertisement on Children

I was in the doctors office a while ago and they had a poster that claimed that a child sees 19,000 advertisements for fast food in a year.    Where do people come up with these numbers?  

I previously discussed the topic of how many ads we are exposed to daily and my opinion is that the numbers we see cited are usually exaggerated.  Lets look at the claim in the poster in question.

19,000 advertisements a year comes out to an average of 52 ads per day.   This was specifically ads for fast food.   If a TV commercial is 30 seconds long then thats 26 minutes of TV fast food commercials per day.   I guess if you plopped your 3 year old kid down in front of the TV for 8 hours every day then they could very well see that much fast food advertisements but it seems unlikely.

I found this report from University of Illinois, Chicago researchers which found : " Children aged 2 to 5 and 6 to 11 years saw, respectively, on average, 10.9 and 12.7 food-related television advertisements daily in 2009"

The 2-5 year old kids saw fewer ads.  If you round that up to 11 per day then it is 4,015 per year.   But even the older 6-11 year old kids only got 13 a day or 4,745 per year.

Where else is a 3 year old going to get fast food advertisements?   Radio ads?   Reading their local newspaper?   Using the internet?   I don't think toddlers tend to read the local paper all that much and the vast majority of them are a little too young to be using the Internet.   I'm sure a toddler may see a few ads from things like ads on buses or billboards, but it certainly won't add up to dozens per day on average.    Among all the misc. ads they may see posted in public the majority won't be for fast food either.

Again, I have to wonder here do people come up with numbers like what that poster claimed?


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