Elternguide Logo

Click, Swipe, Like – Bought? Recognizing and questioning advertisements in the media

2 minutes reading time
3-17 years
Social Media
© photothek.net

Whether on television, at the bus stop or on the Internet – advertising is part of our everyday lives. Even young children see commercials on TV or encounter it in the supermarket, where many products based around children’s media heroes like Elsa, Sandman & Co. are available for purchase. On websites and video platforms, older children and young people in particular come into contact with various forms of advertising: Influencers wear the latest sneakers in their videos, present a cosmetic product from their favorite brand, or unpack the game console they just bought in front of the camera in an unboxing video. Even in many game apps, there are ads that you have to click away to continue playing.

What advertising is allowed?

Media content for children must be designed in such a way that they can recognize advertising and their childlike inexperience is not exploited. This includes, for example, the clear separation of content and advertising. On television, there is a visual and audio cue at the beginning and end of the commercial. A children’s program must not be interrupted by commercials. On children’s sites on the web, advertising banners must be labeled and must not overlap content or interfere with children’s use of the sites. Also, not all products (such as alcohol) may be advertised to protect children. 

Suggestions and tips

Help your child recognize and see through advertising. With age, the understanding of advertising also increases. From around the age of 8, children understand that advertising is not intended to provide neutral information, but to encourage them to buy.

Especially when it comes to online advertising, younger children first have to learn that advertising is displayed at the same time as the actual content on a website. 

Ads within game apps often pop up unexpectedly, which is why kids can accidentally click on ad content. When downloading free children’s apps, pay attention to whether they contain so-called in-game advertising. Decide if this is problematic for your child. You should pay special attention if advertising content in the game tempts you to move faster, if the advertising is not marked or separated from the game content, or if children are hindered while playing.

Older children and young people face the challenge of recognizing whether their idols are just presenting a product or whether they are concerned with real content. This is because videos by influencers are not always labeled as advertising, although this is mandatory if they receive money from companies for it. Watch videos and Instagram stories together, and watch together for hints of advertising and sponsorship in the content you share.

Talk openly with your child about the various forms of advertising in media. Only then can it learn to deal consciously and critically with advertising and the purchasing decisions it makes in everyday life. Think of your role model function as well.

Advertising suitable for children? Here you can find information!

  • Children and online advertising guide: www.kinder-onlinewerbung.de
  • Media Smart, educational initiative to promote advertising literacy: www.mediasmart.de
  • Children’s search engine www.fragfinn.de: websites suitable for children, editorially checked by media educators, many of which are free of advertising or meet strict criteria, including those relating to advertising and commercial content.

Linked topics

Project partners