How Do Parents See the Influence of Social Media Advertisements on Their Children

Introduction

Advertising is an integral part of the modern world, and people encounter it everywhere: on television, radio, on the street, in shops, and even on strangers and friends. However, while adults most often can assess their needs and opportunities and resist the influence of advertising, they cannot refuse their children to buy things and food. For this reason, modern marketing is interested in increasing the impact on children and uses the most accessible and widespread channels for this, such as social media. At the same time, parents do not always realize that their children’s desires for a new purchase may arise due to watching a video on social media or the new post of their favorite blogger. In other cases, parents are aware of such an advertisement, but either do not consider its influence as significant or cannot resist it.

Main body

For this reason, in this paper, the influence of social media advertising on the purchasing practices of children, as well as the attitude of parents to this type of influence, will be studied. This issue is important for study, since understanding the extent and sources of advertisements’ impact on children will allow it to be controlled. At the same time, the attitude of parents will demonstrate whether social media advertising affects the socialization of the children and family relationships. Consequently, the obtained information could be used to develop recommendations and laws restricting the impact of digital marketing on children.

Parents have different methods and styles of education, which are based on their beliefs and views, which form a different understanding of advertising, social media, and their impact on children. For this reason, the central research question of this study is, “How do parents see the influence of social media advertisements on their children’s purchasing practices?” However, it is necessary to study the most common forms of advertisement affecting children, factors that form the attitude of parents, as well as ways of parental control caused by these attitudes to answer this question. Therefore, the following hypotheses will be tested in the study:

  1. The attitude of parents to the influence of social media advertising on the purchasing practices of their children depends on their socio-demographic factors.
  2. The attitude of parents to the influence of social media advertising on the purchasing practices of their children depends on their experience in using social media and the level of information literacy.
  3. The attitude of parents to the influence of social media advertising on the purchasing practices of their children depends on the type of social media.
  4. The level of influence of social media advertising on children depends on their age.
  5. The level of influence of social media advertising on children depends on the attitude of their parents to this impact.
  6. The level of anxiety of parents regarding the impact of advertising on social networks on their children is at a high level.

Conclusion

The study will use a quantitative analysis method to test the hypothesis, and data collection will be carried out using an online survey of preschool and school-age children and their parents. The literature on the subject will also be examined to identify questions for the survey. This approach will highlight the most important and relevant sources of influence, and therefore help to obtain more accurate results and explain their meanings. In addition, this approach will allow classifying the attitude of parents and determining their level of concern. Further use of the study’s results can be useful to justify the need for strengthening legal measures to limit advertising or develop recommendations for parents, depending on their views if the hypotheses are confirmed.

Annotation Biography

Lupiáñez-Villanueva, F., Gaskell, G., Veltri, G., Theben, A., Folkford, F., Bonatti, L., … Codagnone, C. (2016). Study on the impact of marketing through social media, online games and mobile applications on children’s behaviour. European Commission. Web.

The goal of this work was to examine the degree of impact of advertising that children see through online games, as well as the level of protection of children from Internet marketing. Lupiáñez-Villanueva et al. (2016) concluded that children experience the subconscious impact of advertising in all studied games, which encouraged them to buy. In addition, scientists determined that most parents do not consider Internet marketing to be a risk for their children, but the researchers noted problems children’s protection from Internet marketing. Although work by Lupiáñez-Villanueva et al. analyzes online games, rather than social media, it demonstrates the mechanism of influencing children’s consciousness by advertisement. Besides, data about the parents’ attitude to advertising, as well as legal protection from it, also help determine the questions that can be used in the survey (Lupiáñez-Villanueva et al., 2016). Thus, the article the basis for research of parents’ attitudes toward social media as an influencer of children’s purchasing behavior, but study only one of their forms.

Lapierre, M. A., Fleming-Milici, F., Rozendaal, E., Mcalister, A. R., & Castonguay, J. (2017). The effect of advertising on children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 140(2), 152-156.

This scholarly work also adds some details about the impact of advertising on children and adolescents; however, it emphasizes the risks of social media and the importance of parents’ involvement. Researchers analyze various aspects and forms of advertising, from television commercials to social networks and online games, to assess the impact and harm of advertising on children (Lapierre et al., 2017). They also suggest exploring ways in which parents can mitigate the risks associated with media content and affect the purchasing behavior of children (Lapierre et al., 2017). Thus, this information justifies the relevance of the study and hypotheses, and compile survey questions by using the features of impact described by the authors. For example, Lapierre et al. (2017) describe such an effect of advertising as a desire to use alcohol and tobacco in children. Therefore, although this work has no research findings, and also explores a limited range of issues, it has the necessary information that will be used to supplement the study.

Geddes, W., Sawalha, N., & Adams, K. (2018). Parent alert! How to keep your kids safe online. Penguin.

This book was created as a guide for parents to protect their children from the harmful effects of the, but it also compiles the information on the specific impact of advertising. The most useful for the study are the chapters on online shopping, social media, and access to illegal products (Geddes et al., 2018). Practical examples and cases add evidence to the numbers and theoretical knowledge about impact of social media advertising on children. Firstly, this information contributes to the formulation of hypotheses and research questions, as well as the relevance of the work, since it demonstrates the risks that social media bring to children. For example, Geddes et al. (2018) provide examples of how a child spent $ 500 in an online game without realizing the difference between virtual and real money. Besides, such practical cases offer the opportunity to identify the main issues that should be included in the questionnaire for parents to conduct the study. Consequently, although the book is an educational guideline for parents, it clearly indicates the most critical aspects of their attitude to social media.

Nyst, C. (2018). Children and digital marketing: Rights, risks and responsibilities. UNICEF. Web.

An essential part of studying a research question and testing hypotheses is understanding their essence and relevance. This UNICEF report explores the issues of digital marketing in a children’s audience, its risks, and benefits, as well as the responsibility that adults bear in this area (Nyst, 2018). In addition to general terms, the author of the report considers various marketing methods, which allows a more detailed understanding of their psychological impact. For this reason, this report can be used to determine the conceptual and theoretical foundations of the study. In addition, the authors emphasize that parents are not required to bear all responsibility for control of the content that their children receive from social media. Nyst (2018) says that marketing companies must comply with legal and ethical rules in relation to their audience. Therefore, this report does not disclose all aspects of parents’ attitudes toward advertising in children’s social media but provides a new perspective on this issue.

Okeeffe, G. S., & Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, 127(4), 800–804.

The authors of this article do not conduct their practical research that opens up new aspects of digital marketing; however, they raise important questions about the involvement of parents in the digital education of children and the impact of advertising on them. Arguments about the use of the COPPA regulations also confirm the reliability and relevance of the idea that parents want to put part of the responsibility for the advertising content that their children receive for marketing companies (Okeeffe & Clarke-Pearson, 2011). At the same time, recommendations and warnings by pediatricians substantiate the purpose of the study and its significance. Therefore, even though the research work in the article is more theoretical in nature, it is a vital addition to the study.

Valkenburg, P. M., & Piotrowski, J. T. (2018). Plugged in: How media attract and affect youth. Yale University Press.

Scientists need to understand the theoretical foundations of any question to verify its relationship with other variables; hence, the work of Valkenburg and Piotrowski (2018) will be used in this study. The most useful information for the study is the author’s explanations about the reasons for the active use of a children’s audience in marketing, starting from an early age. The authors explain that the children represent a primary market, a market of influencers, and the future market. (Valkenburg & Piotrowski, 2018). This knowledge helps to form a hypothesis about the effect of social media advertising on children, which will be tested in the study and is critical for understanding the foundation of the research topic. In addition, the chapter on parenting will help explain the hypothesis about the attitude of parents to this advertisement and identify questions for the survey. Thus, the statistical data, examples, and explanations of the authors are beneficial for the theoretical part of this study.

Wunderman Thompson Commerce. (2019). Generation Alpha: Preparing for the future consumer. Web.

The report on children’s buying behavior from Wunderman Thompson Commerce (2019) is essential to understand the primary social and behavioral principles of digital marketing influencing children nowadays. Generation Alpha and their parents are the target audience of the study, so the report data is key. This knowledge helps to identify questions for the children’s survey and explain the results of the research or their contrast. For example, the paper notes that for a quarter of the children of the Alpha generation, the blogger’s opinion is the greatest incentive to purchase, and 22% of them find family preferences more significant (Wunderman Thompson Commerce, 2019). Other data are also crucial for understanding both the preferences of children formed by social media and various socio-demographic factors. It is worth noting that the data obtained through a survey of American and British children, who are also the audience of our study. Therefore, this source adds information that lacks in the previous book to explain the idea of the study.

De Veirman, M., Hudders, L., & Nelson, M. R. (2019). What is influencer marketing and how does it target children? A review and direction for future research. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1-16.

Social media advertising has many forms and methods; therefore, the most common ones need to be considered to identify the main categories and variables for the research. Article by De Veirman et al. (2019) will be used to achieve this goal as it studies such form of advertising as social media influencers who have the greatest impact on children’s audiences. A review of the literature and some examples reveals all the features of this form of advertising on YouTube, Instagram, and other social networks (De Veirman et al., 2019). Besides, the authors use theories of source attractiveness and credibility, parasocial relationship, and social learning to explain how advertisement affect children, which also suitable for the study (De Veirman et al., 2019). The only drawback of this article is the lack of practical research that could support the claim that influencers play a significant role in digital marketing. Nevertheless, this information is ideal for revealing the topic of the study and identifying a part of the elements that should be used in the research.

Rozendaal, E., Slot, N., Reijmersdal, E. A. V., & Buijzen, M. (2013). Children’s responses to advertising in social games. Journal of Advertising, 42(2-3), 142–154.

The authors of this study also study the impact of social media advertising on children; however, they add peer influence as a key parameter for changing purchasing behavior. This aspect adds a new variable to the study, but since the attitude of parents is a central issue, this variable will not be considered as a key one. At the same time, the article also has another interesting finding, since Rozendaal et al. (2013) argue that only for children who are familiar with social games, recognizing and understanding advertising decreases the desire to acquire brands. Consequently, this finding shows the positive side of more active use of the media as opposed to the often mentioned negative effects. Understanding this feature can affect both the formation of survey questions and the explanation of the results.

Valcke, M., Bonte, S., Wever, B. D., & Rots, I. (2010). Internet parenting styles and the impact on Internet use of primary school children. Computers & Education, 55(2), 454–464.

The study on parents’ attitudes toward advertising in children’s social media needs data that can explain differences between them. The work by Valcke et al. (2010) examines the relationship between Internet parenting styles and the use of the Internet by young school children. Scientists have determined that the level of children’s active Internet usage significantly depends on the parent’s education, gender, and age, authoritarian or permissive parenting style, as well as parental behavior on the Internet and their experience (Valcke et al., 2010). Thus, this information is useful for the classification and explanation data obtained in the survey. Besides, since the author also studies the relationship between the behavior of parents and their attitude, methods, and techniques, as well as theoretical aspects of their research, can be used; for example, Likert-scale for analysis. However, Valcke et al. (2010) do not address the issue of children’s advertising and buying behavior. Therefore, research methods require adaptation to the topic of study.

Strasburger, V. C., & Hogan, M. (2013). Children, adolescents, and the media. Pediatrics, 132(5), 958–961.

This source, like the previous ones, has useful information about the habits of children in using social media, characteristics of children’s behavior related to parenting style, and the influence of advertising. However, its advantage is a large amount of data that helps to determine the main aspects of the parental attitude to social media and the impact of digital marketing on their children more accurately. For example, two-thirds of children and adolescents in 2013 stated that their parents do not apply any rules to their use of social media (Strasburger & Hogan, 2013). The authors also noted the detrimental effect that advertising can have, which can also be used to explain the purpose of the study. Therefore, despite the general theme, the source has facts and data that can complement the study and change perception of connection parents attitude and direct action.

Lauricella, A. R., Wartella, E., & Rideout, V. J. (2015). Young children’s screen time: The complex role of parent and child factors. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 36, 11–17.

The research by Lauricella et al. (2015) also gives opportunity to draw an analogy and explain the reason for the different views of parents on the impact of advertising on the buying behavior of their children. The main finding of the authors is the fact that children’s screen time depends on parents’ screen time (Lauricella et al., 2015). In other words, the parents see less reason to worry about the high screen time of their children if they use the Internet more often. Probably the same trend exists with the attitude to advertising on social media, and this assumption will be tested in the study.

Kusá, A., & Záziková, Z. (2016). Influence of social networking website Snapchat on the Generation Z. European Journal of Science and Theology, 12(4), 145-154.

The social media that use advertising has many forms and manifestations, such as online games, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat. All these applications are used by different age groups and have different effects on them. For this reason, a study by Kusá and Záziková (2016) is a more specific explanation of parents’ attitudes towards social media advertising and will be used to complete data from the previous source on parent’s behavior. It provides the peculiarities of the perception of Snapchat and other social networks by the representatives of the Z generation, which representatives are still youth that can be parents. This aspect highlights the reasons for different parent’s attitudes toward advertisements in children’s social media by such important demographic parameters as age.

Nikken, P., & Schols, M. (2015). How and why parents guide the media use of young children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(11), 3423–3435.

This article has information on mediation strategies that parents apply to guide the use of media by their children, as well as a methodology that can be used for the research. These strategies are useful information, since they explain the difference in parental attitudes regarding various factors, such as education, financial well-being, or gender of a parent (Nikken & Schols, 2015). In addition, the methodology that was used, such as online questioning and factor analysis using the Oblimin function, are suitable for conducting research in the study (Nikken & Schols, 2015). Therefore, this work complements the theoretical and practical part of the study.

Šramová, B. (2017). Children’s consumer behavior. In S. Sabah (Ed.), Consumer Behavior: Practice Oriented Perspectives (pp. 91-107). InTech.

This chapter contains information that demonstrates the ambiguity of the parental attitude to advertising on social media. The author also emphasizes that this ambiguity does not relate to the social or behavioral aspects of different parents, but the doubts that one parent experiences with respect to advertising (Šramová, 2017). In other words, while parents are more likely to be negative about children’s advertising, they still buy unhealthy products. Adults also use social media to entertain their children, even if they do not approve of this approach. These findings are useful for explaining the results of the analysis in for study and concluding. However, since Šramová’s work refers to Slovak young children and their parents, these findings require confirmation in the American environment. Nevertheless, information on the purchasing behavior of children, their socialization agents, and their parents’ attitude to advertising is useful for the theoretical part of the study.

References

De Veirman, M., Hudders, L., & Nelson, M. R. (2019). What is influencer marketing and how does it target children? A review and direction for future research. Frontiers in psychology, 10, 1-16.

Geddes, W., Sawalha, N., & Adams, K. (2018). Parent alert! How to keep your kids safe online. Penguin.

Kusá, A., & Záziková, Z. (2016). Influence of social networking website Snapchat on the Generation Z. European Journal of Science and Theology, 12(4), 145-154.

Lapierre, M. A., Fleming-Milici, F., Rozendaal, E., Mcalister, A. R., & Castonguay, J. (2017). The effect of advertising on children and adolescents. Pediatrics, 140(2), 152-156.

Lauricella, A. R., Wartella, E., & Rideout, V. J. (2015). Young children’s screen time: The complex role of parent and child factors. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 36, 11–17.

Lupiáñez-Villanueva, F., Gaskell, G., Veltri, G., Theben, A., Folkford, F., Bonatti, L., … Codagnone, C. (2016). Study on the impact of marketing through social media, online games and mobile applications on children’s behaviour. European Commission. Web.

Nikken, P., & Schols, M. (2015). How and why parents guide the media use of young children. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 24(11), 3423–3435.

Nyst, C. (2018). Children and digital marketing: Rights, risks and responsibilities . UNICEF. Web.

Okeeffe, G. S., & Clarke-Pearson, K. (2011). The impact of social media on children, adolescents, and families. Pediatrics, 127(4), 800–804.

Rozendaal, E., Slot, N., Reijmersdal, E. A. V., & Buijzen, M. (2013). Children’s responses to advertising in social games. Journal of Advertising, 42(2-3), 142–154.

Šramová, B. (2017). Children’s consumer behavior. In S. Sabah (Ed.), Consumer behavior: Practice oriented perspectives (pp. 91-107). InTech.

Strasburger, V. C., & Hogan, M. (2013). Children, adolescents, and the media. Pediatrics, 132(5), 958–961.

Valcke, M., Bonte, S., Wever, B. D., & Rots, I. (2010). Internet parenting styles and the impact on Internet use of primary school children. Computers & Education, 55(2), 454–464.

Valkenburg, P. M., & Piotrowski, J. T. (2018). Plugged In: How media attract and affect youth. Yale University Press.

Wunderman Thompson Commerce. (2019). Generation Alpha: Preparing for the future consumer. Web.