Six-year-olds are confused about TV ads

7th September 2001 at 01:00
YOUNG children regard television adverts as a bathroom break and do not realise that they are trying to sell products, writes Julie Henry.

Influenced by the behaviour of adults - who cause a huge surge in electricity demand by putting kettles on during the Coronation Street break - six-year-olds think adverts are for a tea or toilet break.

Mark Blades from Sheffield University, who presented his findings to the British Psychological Society conference this week, interviewed nearly 200 six, eight and 10-year-olds. Only the oldest group understood the motives of advertisers.

Meanwhile, a team of researchers from Staffordshire found that the age of children affects their attitude to drawing - teenagers stop drawing because they are dissatisfied with the results. Experiments with children aged two to 14 found all age groups preferred drawings that were realistic. But only the older children were unhappy with their own drawings, which they considered not accurate enough.

Other research presented at the conference this week pointed to a simple aid for reading problems. Large, widely-spaced print in books and coloured filters could be a simple solution for children who have trouble reading, delegates heard.

Research by Professor Arnold Wilkins, of Essex University, found one in five of the children he studied read faster and more fluently using coloured filters. The filters affect a part of the brain that controls eye movement and are often used to offset dyslexia. Children's reading could also be improved if, as they got older, the size of the print in books remained large and widely spaced, even if the context became more complex.

And, in a study that may have serious implications for child protection investigations, researchers found that children always attempt to give answers to questions, even when they make no sense.

Most five and seven-year-olds answered four bizarre questions, including:

"Is ready heavier than yellow?"

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