Advertising is hardly a recent human endeavor; archaeologists have uncovered signs advertising property for rent dating back to ancient Rome and Pompeii.
Opportunities to advertise to children further expanded with the explosive growth of the Internet, and thousands of child-oriented Web sites with advertising content have appeared in the past few years. These two trends—the growth in advertising channels reaching children and the privatization of children's media use—have resulted in a dramatic increase in advertising directly intended for the eyes and ears of children.
Compounding the growth in channels for advertising targeting children has been another development: the privatization of children's media use. It is estimated that advertisers spend more than billion per year to reach the youth market and that children view more than 40,000 commercials each year.
Several studies, for example, have found that parent–child conflicts occur commonly when parents deny their children's product purchase requests that were precipitated by advertising.
Considerable research has examined advertising's cumulative effect on children's eating habits.
Basic developmental research on egocentrism and perspective taking, along with a great deal of evidence specifically examining developmental differences in the comprehension of persuasive intent within advertisements, establishes clearly that most children younger than 7–8 years of age do not recognize the persuasive intent of commercial appeals.
However, there is far less research examining whether and at what ages children begin to appreciate that advertising messages are inherently biased or on when children begin to develop strategies to counteract the bias within these messages.There is a substantial body of scientific evidence addressing all of these basic issues.In contrast, concerns about advertising that have emerged as a result of new and changing technological capabilities, such as interactive forms of advertising and commercial Web sites targeting children, have yet to attract almost any empirical study.As an industry, advertising did not take off until the arrival of the various mass media: printing, radio, and television.Nevertheless, concerns over advertising targeting children preceded both radio and television.Research on children's commercial recall and product preferences confirms that advertising typically achieves its intended effects.