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Author: Pine, Karen J.; Nash, Avril
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Year: 2002
Article Title: Dear Santa: The effects of television advertising on young children
Journal: International Journal of Behavioral Development
Volume: 26
Edition: 6
Issue: 26
Pages: 529-539
ISBN/ISSN: 0165-0254
Source of Funding: Funding Source Not Stated in Paper
Study Design: Correlational Study
Publication Type: Journal Article
Age Group: Childhood (birth-12 yrs), Preschool Age (2-5 yrs), School Age (6-12 yrs)
Abstract: Objective: To determine the effects of television toy advertisements on children under the age of 7 in the UK, by examining their television exposure and Christmas-time toy requests.

Design: Cross-sectional study, utilizing data from structured interviews (conducted early Dec.) on TV-viewing habits, as well as content analysis of Santa letters (written late Nov.) for brand-name toy requests. Also, between-subjects study comparing toy requests of UK children to kindergarteners from Sweden, where toy advertisements targeting children are banned.

Subjects and Setting: 99 children (45 boys, 54 girls), recruited from Bedfordshire nursery school, 2 Hertfordshire primary schools, and Barnet (London Borough) infants' school. Children divided into 3 groups for analysis: 3.8-4.8 years (n = 16) ; 4.8-5.6 years (n = 41) ; 5.7-6.5 years (n = 42). Also, 19 kindergarteners (10 boys, 9 girls) from Nacka, Sweden, all 6 years (no interviews conducted). TV scores for Group 1 derived from parental report.

Intervention(s): N/A

Outcome Measure(s): Proportion of brand-name products requested in Santa letter.

Results: 41% of toy requests were for brand-name products, with 73% of UK children making such requests. There was a significant, positive relationship between total number of items requested, not proportion of brand-name requests, and TV score (r = .248, p<.05). Lone viewing was significantly related to higher brand-name requests. Swedish children tended to request fewer brand-name items.

Conclusion: In letters to Father Christmas written by children in the UK, where commercials targeting children are allowed, those who watched more television and who tended to view alone requested more brand-name and other items. Center on Media and Child Health
Keywords: Advertisements
Age Differences
Brand Names
Child Development
Cognitive Development
Cross Cultural Studies
Gender Differences
Infants and Toddlers
Media Diet
Mental Recall
Perceived Reality



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