Escudo de la República de Colombia

English

Advertisement in videogames affects children’s behavior

Advertisement periodically shown in apps and videogames encourage children to eat junk food and try to unblock new levels or buy tools to continue playing.

Bogotá D. C., 19 de agosto de 2016Agencia de Noticias UN-

Researcher Francesco Bogliacino participated in this research project which included 8 European countries.

Bogliacino showcased the results of his work in a conference at the UNal Faculty of Economic Sciences.

According to the study, children do not care for the warning messages on online games.

Unblocking levels or obtaining new tools to continue playing is the main goal of players.

Seeing unhealthy food messages in game advertising stimulates children to eat junk food.

As established by study carried out by the European Commission along with the Universidad Nacional de Colombia (UNal) and Universitat Pompeu Fabra of Barcelona, after analyzing the reaction of a group of children between 6 and 12 years of age to videogame advertisement. 

UNal Economic Sciences’ Development Research Center Researcher Francesco Bogliacino participated in a project entitled, “Study on the impact of marketing through social media, online games and mobile applications on children's behavior” carried out by the European Commission. The project included 8 countries including Spain and The Netherlands and chose focus groups of Spanish and Dutch children.

“To carry out the project we chose these countries, especially for the language and the permits we had to get from the parents to perform the experiment,” said Bogliacino. 

Children were seated in front of a computer to play a videogame and a box of junk food with candy and hamburgers was placed nearby with the purpose of establishing what they did when advertisement with this type of food was displayed during the game. 

The researchers determined that children effectively increased their body mass after playing games and minutes after seeing advertisement they would take one of the products in the box. 

During the experiment the researchers inserted a warning message which spoke of the negative effects of these products, which was totally ignored by Spanish children although it did have certain influence on Dutch children, who after watching it stopped from eating these unhealthy foods. 

On the other hand they had a gold bar which they had to fill each time they completed a level of the game. This test hoped to determine up to what point children would continue unblocking levels, even with the warning this could cost them money. 

The researchers discovered that in case of advergames (a downloadable or Internet-based computer game that advertises a brand-name product featured as part of the game) the warning messages work on children although greater limitation is still necessary. For the case of in app purchases, children continue buying without caring for warning messages. 

Furthermore the project determined that the message (which needs to be acknowledge by policies in each country) is only processed and acknowledged after the age of 12, as children do make a reference of having seen something but did not impact them directly. 

“The attention capability limit of children should also be considered, which is typically short, so messages need to be concise and clear so they can understand them,” said Bogliacino.  

The role of parents 

Although the study was aimed at children and their behavior, it also analyzed a part of the parent experience with these types of games and the attention provided, especially when it came to impose rules to children in face of these types of applications. 

On one hand they established that parents are highly concerned as many games have high violent content or place their identity at risk. However they are less concerned that advertisement in related to lifestyle or invite their children to eat unhealthy foods. 

The parents also showed a high trust level on the educational system when it comes to providing knowledge to children regarding mobile applications, purchasing messages and advertising.

(Por: Fin/ACP/MLA/APBL
)
N.° 306

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