Many children in our classrooms have competence when interacting with visual and print based texts. While the familiarity may well exist, there is a need to examine children’s ability to sort through and make meaning from the myriad of messages, commercial and otherwise, which they encounter.
While some argue that children are empowered by the ability to use and manipulate popular culture for their own purposes, others voice concern that this market is vulnerable to negative effects of media.
In Australia both the number of magazines targeting children, and the readership of these magazines, is high and increasing. For example, audited circulation for K-Zone was 66,320 in 2007 and for Total Girl was 64,450 (http://www.bandt.com.au); and readership was estimated at more than three times these figures (http://www.pacificmags.com.au /Pages/Magazines/). A marketing journalist (Curtis, 2004) commented that while television advertising aimed at children ‘raises tempers,’ ‘subtle marketing through children’s magazines has gained parental approval.’ Advertisers see magazines as the solution to communicating with children.
Children’s magazines often carry hidden advertisements in editorials, comics, games and puzzles (Kraak & Pelletier, 1998); and the Australian organization Media Watch monitors for ‘advertorials’ in print materials. In this paper we examine the prevalence, range and content of advertising material within two magazines (Total Girl and K Zone) and the considerations and opportunities this poses for critical reading.
This paper was presented at Bridging Divides: National Conference For Teachers Of English And Literacy in Hobart in July 2009.