Internet Savvy Children Reveal More Personal Information to Online Advertisers
Today’s children spend much of their time online and are consequently exposed to an enormous amount of online advertising. However, little is known about how children feel about online ads. Do they like online advertising? Are they willing to reveal personal information to online advertisers? And what determines these responses? A study in the International Journal of Advertising reveals that time spent on the internet, confidence about internet skills, parent-child communication and online ad skepticism are all important predictors for children’s online ad attitudes and behaviors.
- Children who spend much time online and who consider themselves skilled internet users are more positive about online ads and more likely to give personal information to online marketers for registration or membership.
- Children who are skeptical about online advertising are less positive about it, and less likely to give away personal information. This suggests that ad skepticism stimulates children to make more critical decisions.
- The more freedom parents give their children in deciding what to buy and how to spend their money, the more positive children are about online ads.
- Intervention programs should not only be targeted to children, but also to their parents in order to teach them how to effectively communicate with their children about internet use and online advertising tactics.
Do online ad skepticism, family communication patterns, time spend on the internet, and perceived internet skills have an impact on children’s responses to online advertising?
381 9-to 12-year olds (53% boys; 90% had a computer at home, and 98% of those computers had an internet connection), and 381 parents or caregivers (82% mothers; mean age: 41 years old; 59% had college degrees, and about 40% earned between 3,000 and 5,000 US dollars a month)
At six different elementary schools in five South Korean cities, in-class surveys were conducted with the children. The questionnaire contained questions about children’s attitude towards online advertising, online ad skepticism, time spent on the internet, internet skills and willingness to give personal information to online marketers. The parent questionnaire was taken home by the children and contained questions about parent-child communication in relation to product purchase and consumption. Note that in this study, online advertising was defined as commercial and branded websites.
Facts and findings
- Children who spent more time online were more positive about online ads and were more likely to give personal information to online marketers for registration, membership or other reasons.
- Older children were more positive about online ads and more likely to give personal information than the younger ones.
- The more confident children were about their internet skills, the more positive their attitude towards online ads was, and the more likely they were to give personal information.
- The more skeptical children were about online advertising, the less positive they were about it, and the less likely they were to give personal information.
- The more open the parent-child communication in relation to product purchase and consumption was (i.e., letting children decide their self what to buy and how to spend their money), the more positive children’s attitude towards online ads was.
- An explanation could be that an open parent-child communication stimulates children’s competence and confidence. In the case of children’s internet use, this can imply that children felt more like an expert, without additional learning and warnings from their parents. This feeling of expertise may lead to more positive feelings toward online ads.