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‘TV ads don’t make kids consumerist’

14-November-2000
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‘TV ads don’t make kids consumerist’

After analysing 20 international studies on children as consumers, Adrian Furnham, professor of psychology at University College, London, said there was no evidence to support calls for stricter controls on the advertising of sweets, toys, music and other goods aimed at children. Parents have nothing to fear from advertising. Children are far more sophisticated consumers than popularly imagined. There is no respectable intellectual argument for the view that advertising alone creates false wants and parental conflicts. The findings may surprise parents who have been persistently badgered by children to buy products that they have seen promoted in multi-million-pound advertising campaigns. Professor Furnham's analysis is likely to be used by the advertising industry to resist pressure for Europe-wide controls over campaigns directed at children after Sweden takes over the EU presidency in January. Britain's watchdog, Independent Television Commission, is also reviewing its code of advertising standards after acknowledging that "minors do not always have the knowledge or experience to make reasoned decisions for themselves''. Professor Furnham said such intervention was based on a myth that advertisers could create unnatural wants in children, leading to pester power and conflict with parents. When children are as young as three, they can tell ads from programmes and by the time they are seven they realise that advertisements can mislead,'' he said.

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