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Children's ability to identify search engine advertisements in China and the UK

fu, yuan (2020) Children's ability to identify search engine advertisements in China and the UK. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Previous research about advertising effects on children has been mainly about television-based advertising, and there has been little research into the effects of web advertising to children. Only one previous study has considered the effects of search engine advertising on children. This thesis frist examined Chinese children’s media use using a questionnaire, in a group of 404 Chinese children aged 5 to 11 years old. Results showed that Chinese children generally showed a lack of understanding of the paid-for nature of search engine advertising. Factors, including children’s age and advertising culture, that affected children’s ability to recognize search engine advertisements among Chinese rural children, Chinese urban children and UK children were investigated in three studies. Experimental materials included 34 invented search engine web pages in either Mandarin or English. Half the invented web pages contained text-based advertisements, and the other half contained picture-based advertisements. Children were asked to look at the search engine pages and point to where an advertisement was. Children’s ability to recognize search engine advertisements increased with age, and children could recognize most of the search engine advertisements by the age of 12 years. The later development in children’s ability to recognize search engine advertising compared with children’s ability to recognize television advertising might due to the embedded format of search engine advertising and children’s immature cognitive skills. There was no evidence to suggest picture-based advertisements were easier for Chinese children to recognize than text-based advertisements. Chinese children were better in recognizing picture-based advertisements than UK children, which might due to the pictographic nature of Chinese words. The findings of this thesis suggest that online advertisers should identify their advertisements on search engine pages more clearly, and that governments should do more to regulate online advertisements aimed at children.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Children, Search engine advertising, Digital divide, Culture difference, Language difference
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Science (Sheffield) > Psychology (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Miss yuan fu
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2020 11:17
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2020 11:17
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/25792

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