A Longitudinal Study of the Use of Children in Magazine Advertising

Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 1996


A content analysis of advertisements over a 36 year period (1953-1988) was used to examine the changes in portrayal of children in advertising. Of 30,000 advertisements in selected issues, 2,000 contained children and were classified further for analysis. Relative use of children has declined somewhat during the study period. The use of preschool age children, compared to school age or infants increased at the end of the period. Early in the study period, female children were more frequently used, supplanted by males later. The use of minority children has increased, commencing in the early 1960’s. Advertising planners are encouraged to reflect population trends in advertising design.