Social Issues / Children And Advertising

Children And Advertising

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Autor:  anton  04 November 2010
Tags:  Children,  Advertising
Words: 1443   |   Pages: 6
Views: 624

Advertising today focuses on specific targeted demographic groups. There is a direct focus on marketing products to young consumers. This age group sees the commercials, but does not really understand the directed message. This can have an adverse effect on the way children interpret and understand the message being presented to them. “The average American child sees more than 40,000 commercials a year, and advertisers spend more than $12 billion annually marketing to them—double the amount of 10 years ago.” (APA-1) Children watching television are exposed to every channel running commercials that are sending out a mature message to an immature audience. There needs to be something done to prevent young children from receiving the wrong message at an early age. Also help for them to understand the message that is being sent out in a positive manner.

Common themes that are used to sell products are sex, sex appeal and fast food. They are targeted for a younger marketing audience. Over the last thirty years advertising has focused on a younger consumer base and designs commercials to sell products to this age group. You see television ads, that are selling a mature product, but the commercial is appealing to an immature audience. For example: Trojan Condoms have created a cartoon character, Trojan Man, that is promoting the selling of condoms. This form of advertising appeals to smaller children because of the cartoon animated character. Though the product being advertised is a for an adult market, it is still sending out a message to young children that sex is okay. This direct kind of advertising with a cartoon theme, is what catches the child’s attention. The APA report points out, that children under the age of 8 can’t grasp the notion that commercials have a purpose other than entertainment. The child believes what they see and hear without understanding the true message. This is an effective way to advertise, because this persuades the child to want the product or to remember the product later on. Little catchy jingles and colorful carton-like commercials will catch the interest of a younger child, and using simple language that the child can understand is key to getting and keeping their attention focused on the product. Advertising focuses on the young consumer , because the marketing base is high for products geared towards children . This market has revenues per year of billions of dollars.

Advertising for the fast food industry, is directed towards the younger consumer. The commercials feature animated characters selling fast food kid meals. Children relate with the cartoon characters and want to eat the foods that are being promoted. Children receive the message that fast food is good for them, and do not understand that eating too much fast food can be unhealthy for them. Unfortunately the message from this type of advertising is geared toward the child thinking I need to have the fast food. This is a bad message to leave in children’s minds, because it can also cause problems with their health. The obesity rate in young children has risen drastically over the last twenty years. Health reports have attributed this to the continuing increase in the amount of fast food children are consuming. Television commercials for fast food are on every channel, and the number of channels has risen over the last twenty years. Children who watch television are exposed to a non-stop borage of commercials. This continual exposure promotes a cycle of the child always wanting to go to the fast food restaurants. Parents also are affected by the commercials. Their children want to eat fast food, and the fast food is very convenient for busy families. It is much easier to go through a drive-thru and order the food, then to cook the meal at home. This can be a harmful pattern for the family to establish. Convenience over a more healthy home cooked meal adds to the childhood obesity problem we have in American today.

Children are born with a very trusting nature, so they tend to believe what they see and hear. A child has a very limited attention span, advertising pitches have been shorten to deliver the message in 10 to 15 seconds. This enough time to leave the commercial’s message imprinted in the child’s mind. When a commercial for a breakfast cereal comes on, with 3D animated effects, the message can be misleading. The announcer states that this cereal is part of a good breakfast, then shows a quick flash of a bowl with the product, a muffin, and a glass of juice. The child sees that the cereal is part of a good breakfast. They miss the other components the muffin and glass of juice, and only see the sugary box/bowl of cereal. While grocery shopping, the children will remember that commercial and then want the cereal. All of this is due to clever adverting toward children. This can have an adverse effect on weight, behavior and lifestyle.

The Report on APA Task Force on Children and Adverting is an excellent resource to understand the effects that advertising can have on children. They collected and conducted research on the impact of advertising on children and their families. It is currently estimated that the average child sees more than 40,000 television commercials a year, most of which are 15 and 10 seconds in length (APA, 2). This is a large amount of information for a child to process from the message of the commercial. It is hard for the child to determine what is right and wrong in the commercials. Adults respond to commercials differently than children. They tend to automatically filter the commercial in their minds. This filtering will tell them that the commercial intends to persuade them, and will make want or need the product. Children lack these mental filters, so their understanding of advertising is making them susceptible to the persuasive message of the commercial. This lets them feel and think they need the product they are seeing, and this can lead to deviant behavior. When telling the child no, they can respond in a violent fashion, as well as a non-violent fashion. This can lead to problems later in their adolescence. The problem occurs while the child is viewing a commercial, the idea or message stays with the child long after the commercial is over. Then the child tells the parent they want that item, or to go to that fast food place. If the parents response is no, then usually the child will want the item even more. This now has created a problem between parent and child, and the situation becomes a stand off. If the message stays in a child’s mind, then this is how we know the advertisers are doing their job well.

APA’s Task Force on Advertising and Children formally backed a proposal to restrict advertising to kids 8 years old and younger. The task force’s report carefully lays out why children should be seen as victims of advertising, and not as consumers. Several other countries restrict children’s advertising: Greece bans toy advertisements on TV between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.; Sweden bans all TV advertising aimed at children under 12; and Denmark, Finland, and Norway don’t allow sponsorship of any children’s programs. Canada’s Broadcasting Code, which severely restricts children’s advertising, bans ads implying that a product will make a child happier or more popular. We are a country that will sell anything to anyone, no matter what the age or the message that is welcomed with the product. There needs to be more control in adverting to small children.

Advertising is a powerful tool to bring a message to the masses. Controlling the message that is being directed towards very young consumers is critical. Mature advertising should not have an immature theme and should be limited when the commercials are aired. Advertisers need more guidelines to follow in order to help ensure that the right message comes across to children. Parents also need to be more aware of the television their children are watching. They should also talk to their children about commercials, and the message the commercials deliver. Explaining to children that everything they see on television is not real, may help the child interpret the commercials message differently.



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