For several months I’ve been carrying around a New York Times article, How Advertising Targets Our Children, from the February 11, 2013 edition. Written by pediatrician Perri Klass the Well Blog post points out that recently published research links, even more strongly, the exposure of alcohol advertising to a child’s movement toward unhealthy behaviors.
Dr. Klass writes about Exposure to Alcohol Advertisements and Teenage Alcohol-Related Problems (abstract), a Pediatrics article describing new research that finds a stronger association between unhealthy behaviors and the amount of advertising in the lives of children and adolescents. The researchers followed nearly 4,000 children in grades seven through ten.
In her article Klass quotes the researchers, experts from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy, and pediatrics professors from the Children’s Hospital at Stanford University who have studied the links between childhood obesity and screen time.
This Well Blog article is an exceptional resource that can help adults understand the power of advertising — something that can be used by schools, parents groups, or anyone who is a part of a child-centered community. It highlights and reinforces, once again, the importance of media literacy training at home, at school, and in any other places where children and families learn about the digital world.
You can also read my blog post about the Pediatricians Policy Statement on Media Education.
In her New York Times article Dr. Klass quotes one of the study’s authors:
A large body of literature shows that advertising does increase the odds of underage drinking, Dr. Grenard [lead researcher] noted. But his new results take the concerns a step further. “This study linked exposure to alcohol advertising to an increase in alcohol use among adolescents and then that in turn is associated with higher level of problems with drinking alcohol, getting drunk, missing school, getting into fights,” he said.
The article also describes how advertisers offer games and mobile apps to children — supposedly promoting fun but in reality promoting their products.
The recommendation for parents and for educators? Encourage parents to supervise screen time, even on portable devices, and to decrease screen time when possible. Check out this page of media education resources at HealthyChild.org.