This month, the British media supervisory authority Ofcom published a report on media literacy and understanding of children and teenagers entitled “Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes“. Besides the general usage behavior on the internet, the study focused specifically on the awareness of advertising with regards to search engines and platforms such as Google and YouTube. For this, Ofcom conducted in-home interviews with 1379 parents and their children between the age of 5 and 15 years. These are the main results:
- Even with labeling only 31% of teenagers between 12 and 15 years and 16% of children between 8 and 11 years were able to distinguish Google-advertisements from the actual search results.
- Less than half of the 12- to 15-year olds was aware, that Google is mainly funded through ads and about one fifth believed without reservation that particular information and web content were true, if they were listed by a search engine.
- The majority of teenagers prefers YouTube over traditional television, but yet 53% did not know, that vloggers (video bloggers) may be paid to endorse certain products.
James Thickett, Ofcom's director of research, drew the following conclusion from the study: “The internet allows children to learn, discover different points of view and stay connected with friends and family. But these digital natives still need help to develop the knowhow they need to navigate the online world."
Source: The Office of Communications (Ofcom)