Children as agents of secondary socialisation for their parents

Torgeir Watne (Lecturer in Marketing, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia)
Antonio Lobo (Associate Professor in Marketing, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia)
Linda Brennan (Professor of Advertising Research at the RMIT University, Melbourne, Australia)

Young Consumers

ISSN: 1747-3616

Publication date: 22 November 2011



The purpose of this paper is to contribute to the body of knowledge associated with consumer socialisation. The authors investigate how children function as socialisation agents for their parents in influencing their purchase intentions of computer and high‐tech products – essentially the idea of the young educating the old.


A review of the extant literature relating to consumer socialisation, social power and knowledge about computer related and small high‐tech products yielded meaningful hypotheses. A structured survey which was required to be completed by dyads (i.e. children and parents) was mailed to Australian families in the state of Victoria. Data obtained from 180 usable responses from the dyads were analysed to test the hypotheses.


Children are seen to possess expert power over their parents with regards to computer related and small high‐tech products; which make them an important agent of secondary socialisation for their parents. Men are perceived as being more knowledgeable than women, a phenomenon which leads mothers to be more inclined to seek their children's (son's in particular) advice.

Research limitations/implications

This study implies that when children are seen as experts by their parents, they become important agents of secondary socialisation. However, this only relates to the consumption of the product categories studied here. Future research needs to include other product categories in order to assess the validity of the measures.

Practical implications

Marketers of computer related and small high‐tech products can benefit from the findings when promoting these products to children and parents.


This research study is unique in Australia and possibly globally.



Watne, T., Lobo, A. and Brennan, L. (2011), "Children as agents of secondary socialisation for their parents", Young Consumers, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 285-294.

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