The hard facts on children’s exposure to payday lending advertising

News scrolls past so quickly these days that sometimes we have to press the pause button in order to properly digest a significant fact.

And this week, that fact is this: children in the UK between the ages of four and 15 are estimated to have watched a total of 596 million payday loan advertisements on television in 2012 – an average of 70 each. 

Almost 18 million of those “impacts” – the times when an individual child saw an ad – were on children’s TV channels.

The research was carried out by the media regulator Ofcom, so is as rigorous as it can be.

The figures demonstrate the extent to which payday lenders are placing ads on children’s TV channels.  And while we are on the subject, it also means that the media buyers – the marketing companies that plan and book advertising space for clients – are building children’s TV channels into their ad schedules and that the children’s channels themselves are presumably happy about selling ad space to payday lenders.

All this at a time when there is still no requirement for primary schools to introduce children to the basic concepts of money management.  (The changes to the national curriculum to include financial education announced earlier this year only apply to second schools - and don't start until September 2014.) 

Managing a family budget successfully can be as complex as running a small business – and it's hard enough as an adult to ignore the constant deluge of marketing in which we live today.

Surely children should be given some breathing space, to give them a chance to pick up core skills? 

Shouldn't they be taught the difference between paying for what they need and splashing out on what they want, before they are exposed to the sales pitches of loan companies?   


To read a summary of the Ofcom findings and the full report, click here