Children and media in China: An urban-rural comparison study

Kara Chan*, James U. McNeal

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
44 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose - The current study aims to examine how media ownership, media usage and attention to advertising vary among urban and rural children in Mainland China and also to collect information about the contexts of media usage and time spent on various activities including media usage. 

Design/methodology/approach - A survey of 1,977 urban and rural children ages six to 13 in the four Chinese cities of Beijing, Guangzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai, and in the rural areas of the four provinces of Heilongjian, Hubei, Hunan, and Yunnan, was conducted in March 2003 to May 2004. Questionnaires were distributed through 16 elementary schools and local researchers were selected and trained to administer the data collection. 

Findings - Media ownership and media exposure were high for television, children's books, cassette players, VCD players and radios among both urban and rural samples. In general, media ownership, exposure and usage were higher among urban children than among rural children. However, television ownership and television exposure were slightly higher among rural children than among urban children. The urban-rural gap between media ownership and media exposure was more prominent for new media such as DVD and computer/internet. Chinese children had low to medium attention to advertising. Rural children reported a higher attention to television commercial than urban children, while urban children reported a higher attention to other forms of advertising than rural children. Media usage by sex and by age group was also reported. 

Research limitations/implications - Three of the four surveyed urban cities were highly advanced in terms of their economies and advertising development compared with all other Chinese cities. Practical implications - The study should serve as an advertising media-planning guideline for marketers and advertisers in China. It can help marketers select the right type of media to reach a specific age-sex profile of urban and rural Chinese children. Television, the internet and children's print media can be good potential media for promotion to urban children. TV, children's books, cassette tapes, VCDs and radios can be good potential media for promotion to rural children. 

Originality/value - This paper offers insights for designing media strategies to disseminate market information to urban as well as rural children in China.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-88
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Consumer Marketing
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Marketing

User-Defined Keywords

  • China
  • Children (age groups)
  • Mass media
  • Consumer psychology
  • Advertising media


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