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  SCEC Press Releases

May 4, 2004

For Immediate Release:

Contact: Tim Kasser ( (309) 341-7283
Susan Linn (susan<at> (617) 232-8390 x2329
Alvin F. Poussaint ( (617) 232-8390 x2303

Public Believes Youth Marketing Harms Children:
Results from a New Online Survey

According to a new online survey released today, Americans are extremely concerned about the practices of the youth marketing industry. The survey of 978 adults, conducted by psychologists Tim Kasser of Knox College and Susan Linn from Harvard’s Judge Baker Children’s Center in conjunction with Dads and Daughters, found that:

Most respondents (78%) believe that youth marketing harms children.
· 89 % believe marketing contributes to youth eating unhealthy foods that cause obesity.
· 91 % believe that marketing contributes to children nagging parents for things they want to buy.
· 90% believe that marketing contributes to youth being overly sexual.
· 93% believe the marketing industry contributes to children being too materialistic.

An overwhelming majority (84%) think that the industry is not doing a good job of keeping itself in check; in addition, 74% think that the industry should be subject to more government oversight.

"The people who responded to the survey don't hold a very high opinion of companies that market to children," said Dr. Kasser, noting that only 4% agree with the statement “the current practices of the youth marketing industry are ethical,” while almost 85% disagree.

Corporations spent an estimated $15 billion on marketing to children and adolescents in 2003. Outcomes as diverse as childhood obesity, materialism eating disorders, violence and family stress, have been linked to targeting children with marketing. Kasser and Linn designed the survey to increase understanding of public attitudes toward marketing to children and to generate much needed public discussion about the impact of commercialism on children’s lives.

Most respondents favor restrictions on marketing to children.
· 81% believe that schools should be commercial free zones.
· 80% believe that marketing to children eight and under should be prohibited.
· 61% believe that marketing to children twelve and under should be banned.

The survey is particularly interesting when compared to the results of a recent Harris poll of the advertising industry. Results from that poll show that, on average, youth marketers think it is appropriate to begin advertising to children at age 7. “While it’s good to see that marketers agree with the majority of Americans that young children should not be marketed to” commented Dr. Linn. “It’s a shame their practices don’t stem from those beliefs. This is an industry that routinely targets preschoolers and even babies in their rush to create brand loyalty.”

In related news, a report released today by The Motherhood Project  shows that the advertising industry’s efforts to self regulate child-targeted marketing are woefully inadequate. “This report confirms what public opinion is telling us,” said noted psychiatrist Alvin Poussaint, M.D. of the coalition to Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children. “When it comes to marketing to children, self-regulation is not working. We need to find a better way to protect our children.”

To view the complete report of the Knox College/Judge Baker Children’s Center Survey, please click here.







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