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Targeting Children Online : Young internet users and producers in the commercial media environment

Martinez, Carolina LU (2017)
Abstract (Swedish)
Barns internetanvändning äger i stor utsträckning rum i en kommersiell miljö där reklam och försäljning av virtuella föremål är ständigt närvarande. Genom att kombinera publikforskning, produktionsforskning samt textanalys (observationer online och dokumentanalys) bidrar denna avhandling till en kritisk förståelse av internet som en plats för barns vardagliga aktiviteter och deltagande, och som en arena för kommersiella aktörer vilka försöker påverka barn online. Två artiklar analyserar barnens perspektiv, nämligen hur barn förhåller sig till och hanterar onlinereklam, samt vilka konsekvenser reklam har för deras medieupplevelser och användning. Vidare fokuserar två artiklar på reklamproducenternas perspektiv, och analyserar hur... (More)
Barns internetanvändning äger i stor utsträckning rum i en kommersiell miljö där reklam och försäljning av virtuella föremål är ständigt närvarande. Genom att kombinera publikforskning, produktionsforskning samt textanalys (observationer online och dokumentanalys) bidrar denna avhandling till en kritisk förståelse av internet som en plats för barns vardagliga aktiviteter och deltagande, och som en arena för kommersiella aktörer vilka försöker påverka barn online. Två artiklar analyserar barnens perspektiv, nämligen hur barn förhåller sig till och hanterar onlinereklam, samt vilka konsekvenser reklam har för deras medieupplevelser och användning. Vidare fokuserar två artiklar på reklamproducenternas perspektiv, och analyserar hur producenter som är involverade i att göra reklam till barn på internet konstruerar bilden av sig själva, sina praktiker samt barnpubliken. Därtill studerar en artikel barns möjligheter för deltagande i virtuella världar, och hur affärsmodellen, som baserar sig på försäljning av virtuella föremål och VIP-medlemskap, på olika sätt begränsar möjligheter för deltagande. Denna artikel analyserar även hur producenten representerar sina praktiker, samt hur användarna förhåller sig taktiskt till de kommersiella strategierna. Det empiriska materialet består av 20 individuella intervjuer med barn i 9-årsåldern, 12 gruppintervjuer med barn i 9- och 12-årsåldern (totalt 46 deltagare), samt intervjuer med 18 reklamproducenter. Fallstudien, som fokuserar på den virtuella världen Habbo Hotel, inkluderar onlineobservationer, dokumentanalys och en producentintervju. Avhandlingen kombinerar olika teoretiska perspektiv som är fruktbara för att studera individers subjektiviteter och vardagspraktiker. Michel de Certeaus (1984) perspektiv på praktiker i vardagslivet är av särskild betydelse i avhandlingen och används analytiskt i tre artiklar.
Resultaten visar att barn har ett komplext och ambivalent förhållningssätt till reklam på internet. De intervjuade barnen såg reklam främst som en inkräktare som hindrar och stör deras internetanvändning, och som frambringar stunder av konfrontation, kamp, misstro och resignation. Resultaten visar således att den kommersiella internetmiljön, och särskilt reklamfinansierade mobilspel, är en krävande miljö för barnen. De intervjuade barnen beskrev även hur reklam på internet stundtals utgjorde en källa till information om produkter de är intresserade av, samt hur de ibland tog till sig reklam som underhållning. Analysen av den virtuella världen Habbo Hotel visar bland annat hur producenten strategiskt arbetar för att attrahera användare genom att tillhandahålla obegränsade möjligheter för social interaktion i chatten, och utifrån detta försöka sälja virtuella föremål och VIP-medlemskap genom metoder som exempelvis spelar på barns vilja att nå status i kompisgruppen. Studien som fokuserar på reklamproducenterna visar hur dessa producenter på olika sätt försökte undvika att bli förknippade med praktiken att göra reklam till barn på internet. De framhöll exempelvis att de annonserade till föräldrar och familjen, eller att reklamspel främst var underhållning och pedagogiska spel, snarare än reklam. Producenternas konstruktion av barn som reklampublik var mångfacetterad och ambivalent, där barn konstruerades som sårbara och inkompetenta, men även som kompetenta och beroende av familjen. Dessa resultat bidrar till vår förståelse av hur kulturell kontext formar bilden av barnet hos medieproducenter.

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Abstract
Children’s daily internet usage takes place to a large extent in a commercial environment, where advertising and the sale of virtual goods are ever-present parts of the online experience. The overall goal of this thesis is to contribute to a critical understanding of children’s commercial online environment as spaces for children’s everyday life activities and participation, and as spaces for commercial interests that seek to target children and monetize their internet usage. Two papers analyze the perspectives of children, namely, how children view and engage with online advertising. Two papers explore the perspectives of producers involved in advertising to children online, with a focus on how these producers represent themselves, their... (More)
Children’s daily internet usage takes place to a large extent in a commercial environment, where advertising and the sale of virtual goods are ever-present parts of the online experience. The overall goal of this thesis is to contribute to a critical understanding of children’s commercial online environment as spaces for children’s everyday life activities and participation, and as spaces for commercial interests that seek to target children and monetize their internet usage. Two papers analyze the perspectives of children, namely, how children view and engage with online advertising. Two papers explore the perspectives of producers involved in advertising to children online, with a focus on how these producers represent themselves, their practices and the child audience. In addition to this, one paper analyzes what participatory opportunities are provided to users in children’s virtual worlds, and how participation is constrained by the commercial strategies (the sale of virtual goods and VIP membership). This paper also looks into the ways in which the producer discursively represents the virtual world, and how the users relate tactically to the commercial strategies. The empirical material includes 20 individual interviews with 9-year-old children, 12 group interviews (in total 46 participants) with 9- and 12-year-old children, as well as interviews with 18 marketers and advertising agency professionals. The case study of the virtual world Habbo Hotel includes online observations, one producer interview and document analysis. The thesis combines different theoretical perspectives that mainly are productive for understanding the subjectivities and practices of children and producers. Michel de Certeau’s (1984) theory on practices in everyday life is of special importance in the thesis and is used in three of the papers.
The results show the mulitiplicity and ambivalence of children’s practices with regard to online advertising; the children engaged tactically with advertising through different forms of avoidance tactics and “tactics of the mind” (such as critique), and the children also expressed how they engaged non-tactically with advertising, such as sitting and watching advertisements without wanting to. They primarily considered advertising as an intruder that obstructed their internet usage, and which introduced moments of struggle, deception, confrontation and resignation. However, advertising was also engaged with as entertainment and information. These results suggest that the commercial online environment, particularly advertising-based mobile games, is a demanding environment for children. The case study of the virtual world Habbo Hotel reveals, among other things, how the producer’s main strategy was to provide rather unrestricted opportunities for social participation, and based on that market virtual goods and VIP membership through methods that, for instance, took advantage of children’s need to gain status in the peer group. The producer-oriented study shows how the advertising producers discursively evaded the power relationship existing between them and the child audience; they either refuted or distanced themselves from the subject position “producer of child-directed advertising” and legitimized their practices by arguing that their advertisements were directed to, for instance, parents and the family, or by downplaying the marketing dimension of branded entertainment. Children were constructed in ambivalent ways, as both vulnerable and incompetent, and as competent and dependent. These results contribute to our understanding of how cultural context shapes the notion of the child audience among producers.
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Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:
author
supervisor
opponent
  • Professor emerita Ingegerd Rydin, Högskolan Halmstad
organization
alternative title
Barn som måltavla online : Unga internetanvändare och producenter i den kommersiella mediemiljön
publishing date
type
Thesis
publication status
published
subject
keywords
internetreklam, internet, reklamspel , barn, reklamproducenter, marknadsförare, mobilspel, virtuella världar, online advertising, internet, mobile games, children, advertising professionals, marketers, virtual worlds, tactics
pages
266 pages
defense location
Main auditorium, SOL, Helgonabacken 12, Lund
defense date
2017-02-03 10:15
ISBN
978-91-7753-012-1
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
ce9cfdd0-1176-4db9-bb7b-af3b978817b7
date added to LUP
2017-01-10 09:57:17
date last changed
2017-03-01 17:31:47
@phdthesis{ce9cfdd0-1176-4db9-bb7b-af3b978817b7,
  abstract     = {Children’s daily internet usage takes place to a large extent in a commercial environment, where advertising and the sale of virtual goods are ever-present parts of the online experience. The overall goal of this thesis is to contribute to a critical understanding of children’s commercial online environment as spaces for children’s everyday life activities and participation, and as spaces for commercial interests that seek to target children and monetize their internet usage. Two papers analyze the perspectives of children, namely, how children view and engage with online advertising. Two papers explore the perspectives of producers involved in advertising to children online, with a focus on how these producers represent themselves, their practices and the child audience. In addition to this, one paper analyzes what participatory opportunities are provided to users in children’s virtual worlds, and how participation is constrained by the commercial strategies (the sale of virtual goods and VIP membership). This paper also looks into the ways in which the producer discursively represents the virtual world, and how the users relate tactically to the commercial strategies. The empirical material includes 20 individual interviews with 9-year-old children, 12 group interviews (in total 46 participants) with 9- and 12-year-old children, as well as interviews with 18 marketers and advertising agency professionals. The case study of the virtual world Habbo Hotel includes online observations, one producer interview and document analysis. The thesis combines different theoretical perspectives that mainly are productive for understanding the subjectivities and practices of children and producers. Michel de Certeau’s (1984) theory on practices in everyday life is of special importance in the thesis and is used in three of the papers. <br/>     The results show the mulitiplicity and ambivalence of children’s practices with regard to online advertising; the children engaged tactically with advertising through different forms of avoidance tactics and “tactics of the mind” (such as critique), and the children also expressed how they engaged non-tactically with advertising, such as sitting and watching advertisements without wanting to. They primarily considered advertising as an intruder that obstructed their internet usage, and which introduced moments of struggle, deception, confrontation and resignation. However, advertising was also engaged with as entertainment and information. These results suggest that the commercial online environment, particularly advertising-based mobile games, is a demanding environment for children. The case study of the virtual world Habbo Hotel reveals, among other things, how the producer’s main strategy was to provide rather unrestricted opportunities for social participation, and based on that market virtual goods and VIP membership through methods that, for instance, took advantage of children’s need to gain status in the peer group. The producer-oriented study shows how the advertising producers discursively evaded the power relationship existing between them and the child audience; they either refuted or distanced themselves from the subject position “producer of child-directed advertising” and legitimized their practices by arguing that their advertisements were directed to, for instance, parents and the family, or by downplaying the marketing dimension of branded entertainment. Children were constructed in ambivalent ways, as both vulnerable and incompetent, and as competent and dependent. These results contribute to our understanding of how cultural context shapes the notion of the child audience among producers. <br/>},
  author       = {Martinez, Carolina},
  isbn         = {978-91-7753-012-1 },
  keyword      = {internetreklam,internet,reklamspel ,barn,reklamproducenter,marknadsförare,mobilspel,virtuella världar,online advertising,internet,mobile games,children,advertising professionals,marketers,virtual worlds,tactics},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {266},
  school       = {Lund University},
  title        = {Targeting Children Online : Young internet users and producers in the commercial media environment},
  year         = {2017},
}