Advertising or Games? Advergames on the Internet Gaming Sites Targeting Children

Social/Economic/Cultural Impacts

Authors: Soontae An and Hannah Kang

Source: International Journal of Advertising 2014 (pg. 509-513)

In this article, a study was completed based on the advergames on top websites for kids. Now the first thing I had to do when reading this article was figure out what advergames were. I learned that advergames were serious games created for the purpose of advertising. One hundred and thirty-one different websites were used in this study for data collecting purposes. They were checked to see if they contained advergames, specifically ones that advertised food products. An and Kang learned that most advergames disguised themselves as regular games and only showed food in low nutritional value. Ninety-five percent of the most popular children’s websites in the US and the UK (based on forty websites analyzed) contain commercial activity promoting products to sell. Many of these ads were mixed in with the rest of the content on the screen to blend it in and make it less obvious as an advertisement.

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An and Kang learned that children between 8-18 years old spend almost eight hours a day using some sort of media device. This much screen time has been proven to cause some behavioral problems later on – whether it be drug/alcohol use, violence, or other psychiatric symptoms.

As a psychology major in school, I truly enjoyed their paragraph on the mere exposure effect with the food advertisements. These advergaming websites often show brands of unhealthy foods, and the constant exposure tends to force these kids into developing a preference in their eating habits. Mere exposure to these products can lead to a positive view of the product, just by SEEING it online.

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