Survey: Advertising to Kids

The Advertising to Kids survey was conducted to better understand how people feel about marketing to children.

Advertisers spend $15-$17 billion a year on advertising, with more than $4.2 of that amount spent on ads directly targeted toward children; the food industry alone spends almost $2 billion a year.(1) By the time they turn 21, kids will have been exposed to over 1 million advertisements. Children aged 8 and younger lack the cognitive ability to recognize advertising’s persuasive intent and are unable to discriminate between commercial and noncommercial content. But even until age 11, kids do not fully understand advertising.

The NFEC seeks to gain a deeper knowledge about factors – like advertising to kids – that can affect a child’s future state of financial wellness. The research can give organizations data to effectively support early childhood development and influence young people’s personal finance skill sets.

From November 5th to 9th 2020, 3,002 citizens around the US were asked three questions: whether they thought companies should advertise to kids under 8; whether they thought junk food companies should market to kids under 8; and whether they believed marketing to young kids was unethical. To preface the questions all respondents were made aware that kids under 8 years old cannot understand the persuasive content of advertisements.

Survey Results

Should companies advertise to kids younger than 8 years old?


“Definitely No” or “No”




“Definitely Yes” or “Yes”

Is advertising to kids younger than 8 years old unethical?


“Definitely Yes” or “Yes”




“Definitely No” or “No”

Should junk food companies advertise to kids younger than 8 years old?


“Definitely No” or “No”




“Definitely Yes” or “Yes”

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(1) Shah A. Children as consumers. Global Issues [Internet]. 2010 Nov 21; Available from: