Youth, Risk and Consumption
For decades consumer researchers, social marketers, and public health and policy scholars have been concerned about adverse consumption by youth. In the contemporary consumption landscape, even more attention is being drawn to the role (positive and negative) that marketing may play in such behaviors. For example, to what extent may the marketed portrayal of risk behaviors, body images, violence, indulgent lifestyles, unhealthy diets, etc. impact youth's perceptions and behavioral intentions? How might the increased marketing of these messages through social media (e.g., peer viral campaigns, Facebook, online communities, tweets, texts, and product placement embedded in youth lives) impact perceptions of acceptable risk practices and norms among peers? How do we, as business professionals, alter the negative, invasive commercial messages reaching youth but successfully market products and services? Consumer research is also called for to help understand and ameliorate risky youth behaviors. How can we prevent youth from engaging in risky behaviors that threaten their well-being and preclude them from reaching their full potential? How do we encourage youthful exploration, experimentation, and autonomy in positive, pro-social ways? How do we connect with youth who are engaged in risky behaviors and facilitate positive changes in their lives without stigmatizing, marginalizing, or glorifying the negative behaviors as a forbidden adult fruit? How do we educate youth to become empowered, conscious consumers and aspire to lead healthy, inspired, meaningful lives?
This track seeks work, both conceptual and empirical, that focuses on understanding the consumption of experiences of goods that can endanger youth, whether immediately or over a long term, as well as choices to avoid such consumption or choices to consume experiences that ameliorate risk. This track is also appropriate for papers seeking to understand those who affect youth such as parents, teachers, siblings, peers, media, and marketing practices. As an example, a study of youth sports consumption would be appropriate, both because of the effects of physical activity on obesity and on overuse with physical/emotional consequences. Other contexts of interest include substance use, sexual activity, tanning, bullying, gambling, compulsive gaming or online behaviors, social media use, and other potentially risky consumption experiences. We also encourage new approaches to looking at youth and risk behaviors. For example, research is encouraged that conceptualizes youth not as a temporary, transitional stage through a lens of "adults-to-be", but views youth as an important stage with its own unique complexities (e.g., paradox of independence and dependence), agency, autonomy, and controls for access to their worlds. Research that challenges past discourses which position youth as at risk, in crises, or social problems and presents more transformative representations of youth is also welcomed. Emerging from the diverse views of this session, we hope to generate provocative discussion and new research perspectives. Then, as co-chairs, we aim to guide a collective effort in outlining a future research agenda and disseminating insights through journal publication. We also hope to foster collaborative research projects dedicated to transforming the lives of youthful consumers.