Page last updated: June 2022
Ongoing decline in children’s exposure to age-restricted TV ads

The ASA’s TV Ad Exposure Report for 2021 reveals that in the UK, children’s exposure to gambling and alcohol ads on TV has decreased significantly over the last decade. Under-16s exposure to TV ads for alcohol decreased by three quarters since 2010. Exposure to gambling ads on TV has also decreased by over a quarter.
For the first time, statistics are broken down by nation. Children in England were exposed to the least amount of alcohol ads on TV per week; from 3.1 on average in 2010 to 0.8 in 2021. Under-16s saw an average of 2.1 gambling ads on TV per week in 2021, down from an average of 2.9 in 2010. Children in Scotland saw a drop in exposure to alcohol ads on TV, from 3.4 on average per week in 2010 to 0.9 per week in 2021. Exposure to TV gambling ads fell from 3.5 per week in 2010 to 2.8 in 2021.
Children in Northern Ireland saw the biggest decrease in exposure to alcohol ads, from 5.2 ads on average per week in 2010 down to 1 per week in 2021. Under-16s in Northern Ireland saw the fewest gambling ads, from an average of 3.5 per week in 2010 down to 1.4 per week in 2021. This was the strongest rate of decline in exposure of all four nations.
Children in Wales watched the most television in 2021, though the amount has still fallen significantly; from an average of 19.9 hours per week in 2010 to 5.9 in 2021. Under-16s in Wales exposure to TV alcohol ads declined; from 3.7 ads per week on average in 2010 to 1 per week in 2021. They also saw the most ads on TV for gambling products, though still declining; from 3.9 ads in 2010 down to 3.2 ads in 2021.
While the continued decline in children’s exposure to TV ads is encouraging, The ASA say that a lot of that is down to changing media habits. That’s why they have been conducting specific project work to gain a fully rounded picture of children’s exposure to ads. They have used Avatar technology that simulates children’s online profiles to find out what ads they’re exposed to on the internet and have also commissioned new research ‘The 100 Children Report’, which will work with a panel of 100 children aged 11-17, from across the UK, to identify and take action against age-restricted ads served inappropriately to children’s websites and their social media accounts.
Guy Parker, Chief Executive of the ASA, said: “Our latest report confirms the ongoing decline in children’s exposure to ads for age-restricted products, which is what our rules are designed to achieve. But, of course, that’s not the full story. Children’s media consumption habits are changing significantly, which is why we’re also focussed on protecting them online. Later this year, we’ll publish our findings on the ads they are seeing across the internet and social media as part of our zero-tolerance approach to age-restricted ads being served to children.”
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