With all that has been said about the effects of television on children’s eating habits, specifically commercials, there is yet another concern to add to the list: exposure to advertising through computers and mobile devices.
While the truth is that the problems that a child can encounter with being overweight or having unhealthy eating habits are actually related to a series of social conditions – the household may also have unhealthy eating habits or the standards for one’s own health may be influenced by other social habits- television and the latest technology have also become a crucial factor that we must be aware of.
Conducted by the European Commission together with the Universidad Nacional de Colombia and Pompeu Fabra de Barcelona, a recent study titled, “Study on the impact of marketing through social media, online games and mobile applications on children’s behaviour,” found that the advertising that appears on game applications and video games leads children to eat more junk food.
The study analyzed the reaction of several groups of children from different countries between the ages of 6 and 12. These children participated in an experiment where they played video games while boxes with junk food were next to them. After finishing the game and seeing several advertisements about these types of foods, the majority of them took one or more products from the box, ignoring warning messages.
In analyzing the types messages received by children through marketing, researcher Francesco Bogliacino stated, “Children’s attention spans, which are short, must also be taken into consideration here. When sending them a message, it has to be clear and concise in order for them to receive it.” Bogliacino is part of the Research Center for the Development of the Department of Economic Sciences at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia.
The role of parents in the development and education of children is essential in order for them to not be as vulnerable to these messages. Having clear rules with regard to the use of these applications, exposure time and the rules of their use, significantly reduces this risk.