• Introduction

    In their everyday lives, children encounter the most diverse forms of advertising, in magazines, on television, in supermarkets or in public transport. Children usually find advertising very exciting. The cuter, the more eye-catching and funnier advertising is, the sooner they become interested in it.

    Due to the children's natural curiosity, advertisers quickly get a foot in the children's door.

    Profit-oriented advertising aims to generate concrete buying interests and create consumer needs. It aims to attract attention to a specific company, brand, service or product and to encourage potential customers to make a purchase. Adapted to a certain target group, which is to be addressed, there is advertising in different orientations and forms.

    Children are also an important target group for economy, as their consumption wishes can influence parents' purchasing behaviour. Due to pocket money or gifts of money for holidays and birthdays, however, they already have their own purchasing power. On average, four to five-year-olds receive about 13 Euros a month if they receive pocket money in Germany. However, advertising is not aimed exclusively at children because of their current purchasing power, but also because of their future purchasing power. In order for them to consume certain products later in life as adults, children should already be tied to these brands and products at an early age.

    Preschool children cannot yet understand the intentions of advertising, as experience has shown that they do not yet understand how economy works. They also find it difficult to avoid the omnipresence of advertising and distinguish real content from advertising. The decisive factor for this is certainly that merchandising, in addition to conventional advertising, is becoming increasingly important and this marketing method is perceived by children as particularly appealing. The great range of merchandising that is on offer is making advertising and media characters increasingly common in our normal daily routine and so is for children.

    Relation of advertising and children

    Children belong to our consumer-oriented society and are therefore direct targets for advertising. Since children are exposed to advertising in their everyday life, it is important to help them develop a critical approach towards it. It could be effective if we practised with them identifying advertisements through formal attributes and referring to the intentions of advertisers.

    The reliable and routine identification of the various advertising features can only be achieved with a lot of practice and help from accompanying adults. In conversation with children, you can collect cross-media advertising examples. Printed pictures or drawings can serve as clues and help.

    Children between three and six years of age need guidance to develop a reflective and critical approach to advertising. In order to strengthen their media literacy, it is important to enable them to identify, understand and critically process advertising. This suggests a need for action at various levels. On the one hand, we need ECEC professionals who can help children develop a responsible and reflective approach to advertising (and other media content). On the other hand, consumer habits and the handling of advertising within the family are just as important as the role model function of the parents. On the way to becoming conscious, active and reflective media users, the personal experiences of the children themselves are also decisive. Using a playful approach, ECEC professionals may help to lay an important basis for the development of media literacy for children between the ages of three and six which can lead to their gradual sensitisation.

    Child's reflection on advertising in the media.

    Make children "advertising detectives". In small groups, they can browse through magazines and cut out advertisements. The clippings are then evaluated. Repeat the already known advertising characteristics again and again. Watching previously selected commercials together on television can also help consolidate the recognition of characteristics of advertising and create a reliable basis for distinction between advertisements and actual programmes.

    Comprehension Questions

    1. Why should ECEC professionals concentrate on the children’s critical thinking regarding advertisements in the media?

    2. What factors influence children’s reflection on advertising in the media?