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Click here, kids! Advertising practices on popular children's Web sites
Unformatted Document Text:  Advertising on Children’s Web Sites 23 Online ad features pose a great challenge for children to distinguish between the content and advertisements. Children’s Web sites are famous for their richness in music, animation, and color (FTC, 1999). Advertisements coded in the study were also full of graphics and animations. Half of the ads used animation and ninety percent of the ads were graphical. This assimilation of advisements and content leaves no clear demarcation between the two on a Web page. Moreover, advertisements on a Web page were no longer restricted to one position, such as traditional top position. Ads have started to appear everywhere on a Web page. Children are adventurous when it comes to surf the Web (Ross, 2001). They love to explore everything that catches their eye. Animated texts and graphics are more likely to elicit orienting responses from people (Lang, Borse, Wise, & David, 2002). Equipped with limited cognitive capabilities, children are more likely to be fooled by the fancy ads displayed on a Web site and consider them as part of the content. To exacerbate the matter even more, Web sites put up ads promoting themselves. In this case, it is conceivable that ads and content would share the same structural features. It becomes even harder for children to distinguish the two. Online operators did not seem to have paid their dues to help children differentiate the two. CARU’s Guidelines (2001) require online operators to identify any sponsored sections on their Web sites as well as advertising content. Pastore (2000) reported that advertisers were going great length to protect children by making sure that ads and content were distinguishable. The efforts were not reflected, at least, in this study. Less than one-third of the ads were identified as advertisements by the online

Authors: Cai, Xiaomei. and Markiewicz, Kristin.
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Advertising on Children’s Web Sites 23
Online ad features pose a great challenge for children to distinguish between the
content and advertisements. Children’s Web sites are famous for their richness in music,
animation, and color (FTC, 1999). Advertisements coded in the study were also full of
graphics and animations. Half of the ads used animation and ninety percent of the ads
were graphical. This assimilation of advisements and content leaves no clear demarcation
between the two on a Web page. Moreover, advertisements on a Web page were no
longer restricted to one position, such as traditional top position. Ads have started to
appear everywhere on a Web page. Children are adventurous when it comes to surf the
Web (Ross, 2001). They love to explore everything that catches their eye. Animated texts
and graphics are more likely to elicit orienting responses from people (Lang, Borse,
Wise, & David, 2002). Equipped with limited cognitive capabilities, children are more
likely to be fooled by the fancy ads displayed on a Web site and consider them as part of
the content.
To exacerbate the matter even more, Web sites put up ads promoting themselves.
In this case, it is conceivable that ads and content would share the same structural
features. It becomes even harder for children to distinguish the two.
Online operators did not seem to have paid their dues to help children
differentiate the two. CARU’s Guidelines (2001) require online operators to identify any
sponsored sections on their Web sites as well as advertising content. Pastore (2000)
reported that advertisers were going great length to protect children by making sure that
ads and content were distinguishable. The efforts were not reflected, at least, in this
study. Less than one-third of the ads were identified as advertisements by the online


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