A review of the effects, uses and interpretations of commercial messages and activities by children

McDermott, Laura; Hastings, Gerard; Stead, Martine; Carrigan, Marylyn and Harris, Fiona (2008). A review of the effects, uses and interpretations of commercial messages and activities by children. Department for Education.

URL: http://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrdering...

Abstract

This review examines the effects, uses and interpretations of commercial messages by children and any implications for their wellbeing. It has been conducted to feed into a wider independent consultation on the commercial world and children’s wellbeing being conducted by Professor David Buckingham. The report provides a comprehensive account of the literature, combining research from several relevant and divergent disciplines. It addresses a very complex and controversial issue, and seeks not to advocate one point of view over another, but to carefully consider the evidence to bring us to a better understanding of how commercial messages may both harm and benefit our children. The focus on effects, uses and interpretations is important, as we move away from the arguably simplistic notion of the child as passive recipient to a more sophisticated perception of children as active negotiators of message meanings. Because the scope of the review is so wide ranging, it aims to provide a broad overview of key findings in each of the relevant areas rather than a detailed appraisal of individual studies. Although the growth of new media and divergence of traditional media potentially mean that children are exposed to far more commercial messages, the majority of published research concerns television advertising. This is a limitation in the evidence base.

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