Children and advertising policies in the us and beyond

Amy Beth Jordan, Joelle Sano Gilmore

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


The ubiquity of advertisements and children’s high exposure rates have led to concern about the effects of advertising on children and have prompted advocates to consider what can be done to reduce exposure or inoculate children to its negative effects (Schor, 2004). In the US, children are exposed to between 24, 000 and 30, 000 advertisements each year on television alone (Kunkel and Castonguay, 2011). Other industrialized countries report smaller yet impressively high estimates as well (Shah, 2010). In this chapter we provide a brief overview of policy related to advertising to children, including discourse about the fairness of marketing to children, types of advertisements that elicit the most concern, and efforts to mitigate the potential harms of excessive exposure to advertising. Public discourse about advertising aimed at children is often dominated by opposing views. Advocacy groups and policy makers argue that children are innocent, vulnerable and in need of protection from marketing (Linn and Novosat, 2008; Schor, 2004). Researchers have found that children under 8 years old do not effectively comprehend persuasive marketing messages and that most children under 4 years old do not easily or consistently discriminate between television advertisements and programming (Institute of Medicine, 2006). These findings have been used to justify limits on advertising to younger children in many countries (Caraher et al., 2006). However, Rozendaal et al. (2009) found that Dutch children between the ages of 8 and 12 lack adult levels of advertisement comprehension, and suggest that older children also deserve protection from marketing. Media and advertising executives argue that children are sophisticated and savvy consumers who deserve the right to engage in the market (Snyder, 2011), and there is some research to support this position (Buckingham, 2009). Furthermore, industry executives argue that restrictions on advertising to children deny companies their right to inform children about their products. In the US (and in many countries) commercial speech is protected speech. (For a review of this argument, see Graff, 2008.) Nonetheless, as illustrated in Table 47.1, countries around the world offer a diversity of advertising policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Routledge International Handbook of Children, Adolescents and Media
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages9
ISBN (Electronic)9781134060559
ISBN (Print)9780415783682
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences(all)


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