The Perceived Influence of Food and Beverage Posts on Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Exploratory Study with U.S. Adolescents and Their Parents

Adam J. Kucharczuk, Tracy L. Oliver
2022 Adolescents  
Additional time spent on social media (SM) due to nationwide lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic has increased adolescents' exposure to food and beverage (FB) advertisements, which may increase one's risk of developing unfavorable health outcomes. This study aimed to explore U.S. adolescents' and their parents' perceptions of social media's influence on adolescents' food and beverage preferences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Semi-structured focus groups were conducted virtually with
more » ... seven dyads of sixth grade students and their parents (n = 14). Six themes were identified from the focus groups: (1) perceived increased accessibility to SM usage, (2) factors that increased consumption, (3) perceived increased recall of memorable aspects of FB advertisements, (4) parental observations of adolescents' less healthy eating behaviors, (5) parental influence over FB purchases, and (6) perceived increased engagement with food trends from SM. Increased SM use influenced adolescents' preference toward specific FB brands and possibly influenced consumption habits during the pandemic. Parents may be aware of the targeted marketing used on SM and may minimize some of this influence. Additionally, these findings should encourage parents and adolescent healthcare professionals to proactively discuss the marketing tactics FB companies use and continue to educate adolescents on the importance of maintaining healthy eating behaviors.
doi:10.3390/adolescents2030031 fatcat:ascngofsyjcrpd3mi5oxruqqre