Increased merchandising to young consumers has placed consumerism center stage in the lives of children and teenagers. This phenomenon has been accompanied by growing concerns about the ability of youngsters to make mature judgements about commercial messages. The psychological immaturity of children may render them more susceptible to the temptations of promotional messages and campaigns. While this fact is not inherently or necessarily a bad thing, it may mean that youngsters may be particularly vul nerable to misleading commercial messages that make claims about prod ucts or brands that do not represent the truth. Before accusing advertisers and marketers of unscrupulous behavior and of deliberate attempts to lead child consumers astray, it is important to study the evidence about the ways children engage with advertising and the significance it may have in relation to their brand preferences, purchase behavior and consumer socialization.
Over the years, research into advertising has accumulated giving rise to a body of knowledge about the part it plays in shaping consumers' desires, beliefs, values, and choices. Television has emerged as a particularly salient advertising medium, which is not surprising given its ubiquity and prominence as a source of entertainment and information. This book represents one attempt to review research evidence about children and advertising on television, examining the nature of advertising on the small screen, children's awareness and understanding of televised advertising, and the different ways in which advertising messages can influence youngsters.
Much of the research reported in this book has derived from academic studies into children and television advertising. While much research is