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Livity and Media Smart report explores the relationship between young people and advertising

Media Smart, has teamed up with youth-centred creative business, Livity, to commission and conduct a new report named ‘Teens and screens’. The report explores the relationship between 10 to 16 year-olds and digital advertising.

Research from the report reveals that 80% of 13 to 16 year-olds are more likely to buy a product promoted by an influencer, compared to 50% of 10 to 12 year-olds, who are not even able to distinguish between ads and non-ads. The report also shows that the younger age group are more concerned about what is ‘safe’, whilst the older age group worry more about what is ‘real’.

This research was undertaken to ultimately establish what young people need help with to stay safe and empowered online. ‘Teens and screens’ sets out the requirement for more focus in schools on media literacy for 10 to 16 year-olds, with regular conversations on topics such as body image, advertising and influencer content.

Young people are exposed to more online advertising than ever before and keeping up with the digital landscape is challenging because it is always changing, but there is an opportunity to meet them on the platforms they know and love by naturally incorporating education messaging into the content they consume through entertainment.

In October 2021, Media Smart launched a film-based educational resource with TikTok which features successful Creators and aims to enable young people to navigate the platform’s commercial side. The films are not only being played in classrooms across the country, but also on the platform itself, reaching and educating millions of 13 to 17 year-olds directly in the process.

Livity recruited both young people and their parents or guardians to take part in the research for the report. They were asked to complete digital diaries to keep track of the adverts they were seeing and participate in focus groups to discuss responses further. The team additionally spoke to a range of Media Smart’s advertising industry partners, supporters and stakeholders to hear their perspectives on the challenges and opportunities presented by youth advertising literacy education.

Dan Clays, Chair of Media Smart and Chief Executive of OMG UK, commented: “This latest report reinforces the growing importance to the industry of Media Smart and our work with partners to help younger audiences better understand and interpret advertising and commercial messaging across platforms.  As teens spend more time across more screens, this research will be invaluable shaping the range and importantly the tone of educational materials and content we continue to develop for teachers, carers and parents with partners and supporters.”

Alex Goat, Chief Executive Officer of Livity, commented: “Our latest report with Media Smart puts into sharp focus just how important it is for education and support around advertising and media literacy to move at the pace of the digital world. We need to be in young people’s worlds – which don’t distinguish between the on and offline. We need to use entertainment to create an active learning environment. This report clearly demonstrates that Media Smart’s approach is exactly what young people, educators and the advertising industry are asking directly for.”

The report can be downloaded here.

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