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Media - Ad's all today, folks

What it's all about

Does advertising really influence children and young people? Does it need to be regulated? Or should advertisers have the freedom to say whatever they want, asks Chris Smith.

Our recent research, and workshops with parents, young people and the wider public reveal that 30 per cent of young people aged 11-16 have been bothered by an advertisement in the past 12 months; violent and sexual content, body image and charity advertisements are most likely to be the source of distress. When asked for the main elements that bothered them, a quarter said "sexy" images.

Advertising is a part of our culture. At its best it can entertain and inform. But do advertisements for unhealthy foods add to the national obesity problem? Do thin models contribute to negative body image? It's essential that young people learn how advertising works and understand how it can influence their lives.

That's why the Advertising Standards Authority has launched a new resource, Ad:Check, to help children and young people make a critical assessment of the advertisements they see and hear and to protect them from potentially harmful or inappropriate material.

Ad:Check aims to encourage secondary pupils to analyse advertisements, understand the rules that govern them and debate with teachers and peers topical and controversial issues surrounding advertising. Pupils are then given the opportunity to create an advertising campaign of their own.

Lord Smith is chair of the Advertising Standards Authority

What else?

Ad:Check can be downloaded from TES Resources at bit.lytesASA.

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