The advertising watchdog in the UK has published a report regarding children’s exposure to age-restricted TV adverts over the past decade. This is the first time when statistics have been broken down by nation in order for the regulator to provide a better picture of children’s experiences across the country.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) shared that it contacts regular monitoring of advertising materials, especially the ones for age-restricted products, as part of its commitment to protecting the most vulnerable people from potential harm by identifying trends and ensuring that the implemented restrictions are working appropriately. In this case, the Authority sees a continuing downward trend in the number of British children who see gambling and alcohol ads on TV.
According to data provided by the ASA, the number of gambling ads seen by underage individuals in the UK has marked a decline from an average of 3 weekly in 2010 to 2.2 weekly in 2021. The regulator further noted that the exposure of under-16s to gambling ads aired on TV channels declined by more than 25%, while children’s exposure to alcohol ads on TV fell by about 75% since 2010.
The advertising regulatory body further revealed that the exposure to such commercials relative to adult Brits was also reduced from 36% in 2010 to 15.4% in 2021.
British Children’s Exposure to Gambling and Alcohol Ads on TV Broken Down by Nation
As mentioned above, this is the first time when the ASA has broken the data down by nation in order to reveal the trends for the different regions across the UK so that a more complete picture is eventually provided.
The trend of decline in children’s exposure to gambling and alcohol ads applies to all four nations in the UK.
In England, the children’s exposure to age-restricted ads on TV fell from 227.5 ads per week in 2013 to 81.6 ads per week in 2021. Under-16s also saw an average of 2.1 gambling commercials on TV weekly last year, a decline from an average of 2.9 TV gambling commercials in 2010. The average of alcohol commercials fell from 3.1 in 2010 to 0.8 in 2021.
Scottish under-16s saw the largest number of TV ads overall, but the previous rates have seen a drastic decline in the region, too – from 225.1 a week in 2013 to 92.8 a week in 2021. In Scotland, the exposure of local children to TV gambling commercials fell to 2.8 on average per week last year from 3.5 per week in 2010. A significant decline was also registered in their exposure to alcohol commercials on TV – from a weekly average of 3.4 in 2010 to 0.9 in 2021.
Children in Wales were the ones who watched the most television last year, although their TV screen time has still fallen significantly over the past decade, from an average of 19.9 hours a week in 2010 to 5.9 hours a week in 2021. Teenagers under the age of 16 saw the largest number of TV gambling ads in the country, although the rate was reduced from 3.9 ads per week in 2010 to 3.2 ads per week in 2021. Their exposure to TV alcohol ads was reduced from a weekly average of 3.7 in 2010 to 1 last year.
The largest decline in children’s exposure to all TV ads was registered in Northern Ireland. After reaching a peak of 281.6 ads per week in 2013, the exposure rate was reduced by almost 80% to an average of 59 ads weekly. Under-16s there saw the lowest number of gambling ads on TV, with their exposure falling from 3.5 per week in 2010 to 1.4 per week in 2021. Children in Northern Ireland also saw the largest decline in exposure to alcohol commercials on TV – from 5.2 weekly in 2010 to 1 weekly in 2021.
ASA to Unveil Findings on British Children’s Exposure to the Internet and Social Media Ads
Exposure to TV gambling advertising quickly grew in 2013, with a total of 4.4 commercials viewed every week, whilst the exposure to bingo commercials, which are among the majority of gambling ads seen by British children along with lottery and scratchcard commercials, has declined to its lowest level since 2011. According to data provided by the ASA, the exposure of underage individuals to sports betting ads has fallen from a high registered a decade ago and has also remained at a consistently low level since 2019.
The CEO of the Advertising Standards Authority, Guy Parker, noted that the latest report of the watchdog confirmed the ongoing trend of decline in children’s exposure to adverts for age-restricted products such as alcohol and gambling. He further shared that the media consumption habits of underage individuals have been significantly changing, which is why the ASA remained focused on protecting them online.
As confirmed by Mr Parker, the advertising regulator is expected to unveil its findings on the ads seen by British children across the Internet and social media platforms later in 2022.