Effects of Media Ratings on Children and Adolescents: A Litmus Test of the Forbidden Fruit Effect


Jordy F. Gosselt; e-mail: j.f.gosselt@utwente.nl


Media ratings serve to inform parents about and protect minors from violent or otherwise harmful media content. Most of these systems use age pictograms and content warning pictograms for entertainment products. An experiment was conducted to investigate whether these pictograms, contrary to their purpose, have an appealing effect on children and adolescents. Compared to prior studies into this “forbidden fruit effect” concerning DVDs and games, more realistic materials were used. In the experiment, 322 elementary school students (9–11 years) and 335 high school students (13–15 years) were exposed to 10 DVD or game covers and asked to judge the products' attractiveness. The results show that the pictograms did not increase the attractiveness of games and DVDs for children and adolescents.