In today’s society children are being exposed to a greater amount of advertising then ever before. With children orientated television channels on the increase and personal computers with access to the internet becoming standard in many family homes companies can reach children so much easier. What effect mentally and physically does this have on young children as they grow and develop? Is this an issue that we should be worried about? After reading into this subject before I came across development psychologist Jean Piaget who would argue that there is an issue as he believes that as young children grow they “develop the ability to see the world from the perspective of other people.” Looking at the work from Piaget and similar research carried out by Ed Mayo and Agnes Nairn for their book, Consumer Kids which I had come across after looking at Piaget, this proposal intends to investigate several things. Firstly it will build on the research already begun on the actual effects advertising has on young minds and secondly what can we do to prevent and control this issue.
To gather my own data and build upon what has already been researched an experiment would be conducted that would expose a group children to carefully selected adverts and at the same time show another group of children someone plainly describing the products using the script from the adverts whilst holding the item. The constants in this experiment would be the products, the information about them and the time each product was on the screen. The groups would then be given a short interview asking questions concerned with what the had just watched. The groups would then be swapped so that each group would have a chance to watch the real and reworked adverts, however a different set of commercials would be used.
Piaget found that a children grow their mind develops through different age stages, These stages were 0-3, 3-7, 7-11 and 11+. For the experiment and interview I would focus on the 3-7 and 7-11 as this would concentrate my findings to a smaller age band but also allow me to still see if there was any significant jump between to age groups. For each age stage I would recreate the experiment several times to that I can gain as much information as possible. Using an experiment like this will allow a large number of children to be tested in a short amount of time. This would permit the team to be in full control of what the children watched and would stop them being distracted by anything else if, for example this was conducted in the home.
The interviewee would ask specific questions to get the same sort of answers from our volunteers so that we would learn what each child thought a certain product or advert. This method is useful as each person is answering and giving their own view on the subject which is unique to them, this way we can see if there is any similarities. To help keep the information clear and simple a matrix chart would be created so that the data was complied on the sheet so comparisons and patterns could be spotted quickly and efficiently.
This process would need a team of at least four people for the experiment but more could be used to get the interviews done and work through the findings and I would estimate that it may need several months to conducted from start to finish.
There may several problems that arise whilst using these methods however. We might not get the number of participants that we require to give us a good amount of information which could alter how our findings go. Another problem could be that we do not get a specific answer and our findings are far to varied to one solid conclusion. In the event that this would happen another method will have to be implemented. I propose that we create an observation pack that we can hand to families that are willing to take part without the inconvenience of coming to a research lab. Parents would be asked to observe their children’s behaviour after viewing adverts catered for them, paying close attention to there requests for a specific brand or toy which was out of the ordinary. A blank matrix chart would then be filled out by parent with each of the columns asking different questions about the advert there child saw and how their behaviour has changed. It would also ask what action the parent would take in this situation. There will also be a general questionnaire that will gather generic information so we can build a profile to see if any patterns emerge with certain types of family. Creating a chart like this would allow me to gather the information I needed without to much upheaval to the family. With the information gathered on the behaviour of children due to advertising a conclusion could possibly be drawn on whether or not this is an issue we should be concerned about. After this was completed I would use the concept of polysemy and show the children altered images of toys and brands that they should be familiar with. Their responses would be noted and then the original unaltered image would then be shown and again the responses would be noted. Using this method I would be able to see if what , if any, effect adverts have on children. I have already used these methods and saw that results can be similar or vary greatly from one another. Which ever way the results may go a conclusion will be drawn as to whether advertising can effect children.
By recording information about individual children and their families it is hoped that a connection can be made between the child’s behaviour due to adverts and messages they receive from their parents. Only then can we start to look further into what it is that they are doing as individuals so that methods can be developed to address the problem that advertising has on youth development.
5 books to read over summer
- I am going to read Consumer Kids by Ed Mayo and Agnes Nairn. I read a chapter in first semester and i found it a really interesting. Would like to see what else the book can offer.
- I enjoyed reading the Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell so I am going to give another of his books ago, Blink.
- We have been encourage to constantly to break down barriers between disciplines this year and because I used to study architecture and because of the likes of Japan I am going to look at Design Like You Give A Damn:Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises.
- Again to keep the barriers breaking down I am going to read D'Arcy Thompson's On Growth and Form. Nature as always dumb founded me by the natural structures and patterns it can create so it is time to find out why.
- Last book i am going to read The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam purely because I haven't had the chance to read it yet and it looks like it may come in very handy.
- Lisa Maclean (facebook and twitter)
- Kate Pickering (facebook and twitter) think it is important to stay connected with these girls as they are of similar age and in a few years time I will be at their stage, hopefully ha ha, and it would be handy to annoy them for advice. Plus they are amazing, super helpful and would be awful if we never talked again.
- JB (twitter) he always has something interesting to say whether you agree or not and finds really useful things on the web which can be of value to our studies.
- Professor Mike Press (twitter) found his lecture really interesting and I have been to a few meetings with him. Would be good to keep in contact with someone older with a good bit of experience in the field of design (not saying you don't JB but you have been given a reason already).
- Sigurd Bronger (email) Norwegian jeweller who I am currently studying for my design research project. We have sent each other emails and I think it is no time like the present to start networking, especially now I have the opportunity to connect with someone from another country. His knowledge of jewellery and of Norway and Holland could prove invaluable.
- I will start putting posts up more regularly.
- I plan to create a twitter account so i will link my blog up with that. (Also want to try create my own web page so everything can be accessed from that centrally).
- Want to create a more unique look to my blog, add some of my personality to it. Make it stand out from the crowd.
- Would like to organise my blog so that when my readers come to have a look they can access my posts via tabs and quickly find what they are looking. For example all my design studies posts would be in a tab or page exclusively for design studies.
- Finally I plan to delete this blog and move over to wordpress. From what I have seen from other peoples blogs it looks slicker and more professional.