Kids: Young planet

What is the best medium to use to reach the under-14 market? Which nation has the wealthiest children? How popular are newspapers with youths? Find out with this global guide to children's media use. ASIA

There are 1.2 billion children in Asia - one-fifth of the world's population. But tumbling fertility rates have caused that number to stop rising for the first time in three decades. Even so, 21 per cent of China's 1.3 billion-strong (and increasingly affluent) population is less than 14 years old, while in India that figure is almost one-third - and in ageing Japan, just 14 per cent.

Digital media is an increasingly popular way to reach Asia's tech-savvy youngsters, especially in Japan and Korea. But TV is still king. In China and Japan, strong animation industries mean children can choose between locally produced shows and international platforms, dominated by Nickelodeon.

Youngest Laos 42% under 14
Highest birth rate Laos 36 births/1,000
Most children reached by ...
TV* Japan 92%
Radio* Singapore 86%
Newspapers* Singapore 96%
Magazines* Singapore 29%
Media favourite** Nickelodeon
*weekly reach (six- to 11-year-olds)
**highest reach among four- to 15-year-olds
Sources: CIA World Fact Book, Mediaedge:cia M&M pocket book, AC Nielsen.


"The secret to America's enduring power is its youth," Fareed Zakaria, the editor of Newsweek International, said recently. According to Datamonitor, the number, influence and spending power of children in the US continues to grow. There are 30 million "tweens" in the US, a group that wields $130 billion in annual spending power - nearly 10 per cent of the UK's GDP.

But, as well as the problems of media fragmentation, reaching American children is deemed ever more politically incorrect. In January, advocacy groups, including the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, announced their intent to sue Viacom and Kellogg for marketing "junk" food to young children. The group slammed Kellogg's activities as "a multimedia brainwashing and re-education campaign - and a disease-promoting one at that".

Youngest US 21% under 14
Highest birth rate US 14 births/1,000
Most children reached by ...
TV* US 95%
Radio* US 90%
Newspapers* Canada 83%
Magazines* Canada 87%
Media favourite** Nickelodeon
*weekly reach (12- to 19-year-olds)
**71% monthly reach among six- to 11-year-olds
Sources: CIA World Fact Book, Mediaedge:cia M&M pocket book, Nielsen
Media Research.


People are less cynical about the commercial world in Latin America and advertising to children is commonly regarded as a way to inform and educate children about what is available for them to buy.

Television is the overwhelming children's favourite with almost 100 per cent penetration in the region's key markets: Brazil, Mexico and Argentina.

Most children's programming is imported from the US and Europe, and the major pan-regional broadcasters to children - Cartoon Network, Disney, Nickelodeon and Jetix - compliment the domestic terrestrial broadcasters led by Rede Globo in Brazil and Grupo Televisa in Mexico. In Argentina, the region's most heavily saturated cable TV market, the pan-regional children's channels dominate and there is little children's programming available on free TV.

Youngest Guatemala 42% under 14
Highest birth rate Guatemala 34 births/1,000
Most children reached by ...
TV* Brazil 99%
Radio* Uruguay 85%
Newspapers* Ecuador 60%
Magazines* Mexico 39%
Media favourite** Cartoon Network
*weekly reach (six- to 11-year-olds or 12- to 17-year-olds)
**18 million homes/broadcasters viewership data
Sources: CIA World Fact Book, Vega Olmos Ponce, Mediaedge:cia M&M pocket


Africa is the world's "youngest" continent. Of the top 30 countries with the largest chunks of their populations under the age of 14, 25 are African.

But, given its political and structural problems, low literacy levels and the fact that more than 60 per cent of Africans live below the poverty line, Africa has long been neglected by most marketers.

South Africa is the exception. Its advertising market, worth $2.2 billion, is relatively mature and grew by 17 per cent last year. The spending power of South African teens is close to $1 billion a year and TV is the favoured way to reach them. Top children's programmes include the locally produced soap Generations on SABC1 and WWE's International Smackdown on ETV.

Youngest Uganda 50% under 14
Highest birth rate Niger 48 births/1,000
Most children reached by ...
TV* Egypt 92%
Radio* South Africa 91%
Newspapers* Egypt 23%
Magazines* South Africa 36%
Media favourite** SABC1
*weekly reach (15-year-olds+)
**South African Research Foundation
Sources: CIA World Fact Book, Initiative Media South Africa,
Mediaedge:cia M&M pocket book.


The population of children in Europe is shrinking. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of "tweens" (ten- to 13-year-olds) will drop from 15.9 million to 15.4 million, according to the United Nations. Career-minded adults with plans to start families later in life, if at all, are responsible, Datamonitor believes. The guilt brought on by parental absenteeism has led to European adults spoiling their children, especially in the UK.

British children are Europe's richest, followed by those in Sweden, The Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

But Europe is a regulatory minefield for advertisers. In Sweden, advertising to children under 12 years old is banned, while in Greece there is a ban on ads for toys between 7am and 10pm and a total ban on advertising war toys.

Youngest Turkey 26% under 14
Highest birth rate Turkey 17 births/1,000
Most children reached by ...
TV* Italy 96%
Radio* France 90%
Newspapers* Sweden 59%
Magazines* UK 48%
Media favourite** Nickelodeon
*weekly reach (seven- to 12-year-olds)
**100 million homes (reach among four- to 15-year-olds)
Sources: CIA World Fact Book, Mediaedge:cia M&M pocket book,
broadcasters viewership data


More than one-third of the population of Saudi Arabia and more than one-quarter of the population of the United Arab Emirates is younger than 14 years old, and both rank among the wealthiest countries in the world by GDP per capita.

Besides being such a "young" and prosperous region, the Middle East is free from the heavy legislation on advertising to children that exists in the West, and childhood obesity is not an issue.

The problem is the dearth of children's media. Television, led by Space Toon and the relative newcomer NBC 3, is the only real option, with few print alternatives. But TV may not dominate for much longer: mobile phone penetration in the Middle East is set to overtake Asia-Pacific's later this year.

Youngest Gaza 49% under 14
Highest birth rate Afghanistan 47 births/1,000
Most children reached by ...
TV* Lebanon 70.2%
Radio* Syria 61%
Newspapers* Saudi Arabia 30%
Magazines* UAE 66.4%
Media favourite** Space Toon
*weekly reach (12- to 17-year-olds)
**Pan-Arab viewership survey, 2003
Sources: CIA World Fact Book, Initiative, Mediaedge:cia M&M pocket book