Advertising greatly affects children, especially through television commercials which can influence their desires for advertised products. Without parental supervision, advertising has multiple negative effects on children. While ads provide information about products, they also have harmful consequences. Currently, children are exposed to different types of commercials on various media platforms including television, print media, and the internet. Advertisements are pervasive in today’s society and target individuals of all ages.
Advertisements have a strong influence on children as they are more vulnerable and easily influenced. Children, being innocent and immature, are defenseless against the intentions of marketers who aim to sell their products. They trust the messages conveyed through advertisements without questioning the business aspect behind them. Advertisers strategically design their ads to captivate children’s attention and make them desire the promoted products. However, children lack the understanding that these ads are part of a marketing strategy.
Research has demonstrated that junk food advertisements have a significant impact on children, who are an extremely vulnerable target audience and easily swayed. These advertisements greatly influence children, causing them to develop a higher desire for junk food. When children observe young adults, who appear to be in good physical shape, consuming junk food in these advertisements, they assume that it is beneficial for their health. Unfortunately, they are unaware that junk food lacks nutritional value and is ultimately detrimental to their well-being. Furthermore, children may even believe that by consuming these unhealthy foods, they too can become thin and fit like the models showcased in the advertisements.
According to a research study, children tend to consume more junk foods after being exposed to advertisements promoting these products. The study found that advertising had such a strong influence on children that their consumption of unhealthy snacks and foods nearly doubled. Specifically, the researchers conducted an experiment where children were exposed to commercials for candy. The results showed that those children who watched the candy commercials were significantly more influenced and preferred candy over fruits as their snack choice. However, when the commercials were reduced or eliminated, the children’s behavior positively shifted towards healthier food options.
The text highlights the significance of promoting fruit consumption over candy among children under five years old to address the growing obesity rate. The excessive intake of fast foods and junk foods is identified as the primary cause of this surge in childhood obesity, which consequently leads to an increase in childhood diabetes. This phenomenon has given rise to what is termed as the Nag Factor, wherein children are swayed by advertising and persistently request specific products or a particular lifestyle portrayed in advertisements. For instance, they may adamantly demand wearing only branded jeans while disregarding other clothing brands available in stores.
Children may pressure their parents excessively for the products they see in advertisements, using tactics such as crying, pinching, pulling, and refusing to be quiet until their parents give in. Some parents who struggle to manage their children may feel compelled to surrender to these tantrums. When children are exposed to these ads, it distorts their young minds and causes them to place great importance on materialistic pleasures. Therefore, what options do parents have? In today’s media-driven world with numerous commercials that provide extensive openness and exposure, parents frequently express concerns about the content their children are being exposed to.
Children have been found to remember messages directed at adults, including content from advertisements targeting adults. Some countries have banned marketing and advertising aimed at children under twelve, while one country has specifically banned toy advertisements before 10 p.m., when children are typically awake. In the past, advertisers primarily targeted parents when promoting children’s products. However, currently, marketers directly aim their messages at children.
Advertisements are deliberately designed to capture children’s attention and directly influence them. It is important for parents to educate their children about being critical of ads and reducing their susceptibility to their messages. Moreover, parents should instill in their children the significance and worth of money. The advertising industry allocates $12 billion annually on targeted ads for children, bombarding young viewers with persuasive messages through various media platforms including television and the Internet. Studies indicate that the average child is exposed to over 40,000 TV commercials in a year.
Advertisements are using new media technologies and infiltrating schools by sponsoring educational materials and placing products in textbooks, targeting children. However, PAP and its Task Force on Advertising and Children aim to put an end to this. In February, Papa’s Council of Representatives adopted the task force’s recommendations to counter the negative impact of advertising on children, especially those aged 8 and younger who may not fully understand persuasive advertising.
The PAP has joined forces with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Kaiser Family Foundation to propose similar policies in relation to this recent action. Furthermore, they have taken proactive measures to put into effect the suggestions made by the task force. These suggestions involve supporting legislation that restricts advertisements targeted at children aged 8 and below, as well as conducting additional studies on the influence of advertising on young children (see sidebar for complete recommendations).
Papa’s Public Policy office has recently met with members of Congress, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission to talk about how advertising affects children. In addition, PAP plans to work together with Children Now and the American Academy of Pediatrics to co-host a briefing in Washington, D.C. this month. The briefing will mainly focus on child-targeted advertisements that are distributed through digital media and multicasting technologies.
The task force report is an important tool for guiding advocacy efforts and supporting research initiatives. It provides evidence-based recommendations that can be used to advocate to state legislators, organizations, and foundations. Additionally, it serves as a valuable resource for seeking funding for research. Barry Anton, PhD, who is a member of the PAP Board of Directors and Papa’s Council of Representatives, emphasizes the significance of the report’s goals and benefits in both advocacy and research. Anton also chaired another task force that focused on children and adolescents.
In order to address fairness in child-directed advertising, Dale Sunken, PhD, a professor of communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara and the senior author of the task force’s report emphasizes that the objective of these efforts is focused on this issue. The primary concern revolves around determining whether it is acceptable to expose an audience too young to comprehend that commercial messages are biased and intended to influence their decisions. As per the findings from the task force, these messages possess unquestionably strong persuasive capabilities. The report cites studies which demonstrate that even a single exposure to a commercial can lead to children remembering its content and developing a desire for the product being advertised.
According to Brian Wilcox, PhD, chair of the 2000 task force studying advertising’s impact on children, certain messages can affect children’s behavior. For instance, child-oriented ads for nutritious foods may be less effective if children also view snack food ads during that time. Moreover, researchers speculate that advertising aimed at kids, primarily featuring commercials for sugary cereals, candy, and fast-food restaurants, may contribute to increasing childhood obesity rates by endorsing unhealthy eating options.
A report states that eating habits formed in childhood can continue throughout life. Additionally, there is growing concern over children’s unsupervised media consumption, such as internet usage and television watching in their bedrooms. This lack of supervision is troubling because young children trust advertisements to be fair, accurate, balanced, and truthful without recognizing any underlying exaggerations or biases. To critically evaluate ads, children must differentiate between commercial and noncommercial content and understand the persuasive intent behind advertising. The report also emphasizes that commercials often employ psychological research to make their messages more influential by utilizing developmental psychology principles to convince children they need a specific product and encourage them to persuade their parents into purchasing it.
The use of characters and celebrities from shows like “Sponge Squarest” or “Blues Clues”, along with premium gimmicks, is a common strategy employed by advertisers to attract children. Efforts are underway to educate parents and children about these advertising tactics. Edward Palmer, PhD, a task force member with 30 years of experience studying the impact of advertising on children, emphasizes the need for addressing this issue in schools. However, there is limited research on whether ads in schools distract students from learning or influence them to make purchases. Palmer, who works as a psychology professor at Davidson College in Davidson, N.C., believes that psychologists can play a role in educating educators about this matter. Specifically, they can develop interventions aimed at improving media literacy skills in children and teaching them about the persuasive intent behind advertisements. Another task force member, Joanne Cantor, PhD, an emeriti professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, urges psychologists to launch a public information campaign to ensure that parents, teachers, and legislators fully comprehend these concerns.
In recent years, advertising has undergone notable changes as it increasingly focuses on younger age groups, according to Wilcox. This includes utilizing the Internet to indirectly reach children through the games they play. Wilcox highlights that individuals often are unaware of the marketing and advertising tactics employed in these endeavors. Advertisers and marketers have become highly skilled at using advertising techniques to attract children’s attention. However, there is a dearth of research examining how internet interactivity is utilized in targeting children.
Wilcox, a professor of psychology and director of the Center on Children, Families and the Law at the University of Nebraska, emphasizes that more parents are backing psychology’s role in examining and lessening the effects advertisements have on children. He acknowledges that parents express great concern about advertising’s influence on their kids, as it frequently results in excessive toy requests and unhealthy food cravings.
Child psychologist Allen D. Canner, PhD, acknowledges that managing children’s growing interest in materialism and their constant requests for advertised products can be challenging for parents. He emphasizes that the significant psychological impact of the materialistic shift happening in society needs to be addressed by professionals. Advertising is not a recent phenomenon and has been around since ancient times, as evidenced by archaeologists uncovering signs advertising property for rent in ancient Rome and Pompeii. Town criers also served as an early form of advertising. However, advertising targeting children has raised concerns even before the advent of radio and television. In 1874, the British Parliament passed a law aimed at safeguarding children from merchants’ attempts to persuade them to make purchases and incur debt.
Commercial targeting of children was not common until television became widely adopted. It then increased significantly with the emergence of cable TV, which enabled the creation of channels dedicated to children’s programming and advertising. With the rapid growth of the Internet, opportunities to advertise to children expanded even more, resulting in the appearance of numerous child-oriented websites with advertisements. Another factor contributing to the increase in advertising aimed at children has been their increased media usage.
A recent study discovered that a large number of households in US Hillier possess televisions in their bedrooms, as well as unsupervised computer access for many children. Consequently, these two trends have resulted in a notable increase in advertising specifically aimed at children.
Each year, advertisers spend more than $12 billion targeting the youth market, subjecting children to over 40,000 commercials. These figures have increased significantly since the sass. The Task Force on Advertising and Children conducted a study to explore the effects of advertising on children. Their research concentrated on how children’s cognitive development influences their comprehension of advertising’s sway and the potential adverse consequences stemming from exposure.
There is extensive scientific evidence on fundamental issues. However, when it comes to advertising concerns related to new technological capabilities like interactive advertising and commercial websites targeting children, there is a lack of empirical studies. As a result, our research review and conclusions mainly focus on traditional advertising approaches. Nonetheless, we do highlight the areas that require further investigation in our final recommendations.
The task force assessed research that investigated two key questions regarding the impact of advertising on children. Firstly, does advertising influence children’s ability to remember and develop preferences for products? If not, the considerable amount of money (approximately $12 billion per year) spent by advertisers on targeting children would be considered a remarkably unwise investment. Secondly, does exposure to advertising lead children to consume products that are detrimental to their health and general welfare? For instance, does advertising contribute to excessive consumption of sugary snacks or cereals as well as underage drinking of alcoholic beverages?
Research findings confirm that advertising aimed at children is usually successful in achieving its desired outcomes. Various studies with different methodologies have shown that children remember the content from advertisements they have seen. It has been observed that product preference can be formed even after a single exposure to a commercial and becomes stronger with repeated exposures. Significantly, these studies have demonstrated that children’s product preferences influence their requests for purchases, which in turn affect their parents’ buying decisions.
The primary concern about the impact of advertising on children is the potential harm caused by exposure. There have been numerous research findings related to this issue. For instance, several studies have shown that conflicts between parents and children often arise when parents refuse to buy products that were requested due to advertising. The cumulative effect of advertising on children’s eating habits has also been extensively studied.
Research has shown that a large number of advertisements aimed at children promote candy, fast foods, and snacks. It has been observed that being exposed to these advertisements leads to a higher consumption of these products. Although consuming nutritious foods in moderation may not be harmful, excessive indulgence in these products, especially at the expense of healthier options, has been linked to obesity and poorer health. Numerous studies have discovered significant connections between the increase in advertising for nutritious foods and the prevalence of childhood obesity.
A number of studies have discovered a significant correlation between children’s exposure to tobacco and alcohol advertisements and their positive attitudes towards using these products. Children are often drawn to these commercials, for example, Joe Camel and the Budweiser frogs, resulting in a strong brand awareness and favorable views towards such items. These products and their mascots are frequently featured in media and publications that minors frequently consume, and various research reviews, including the Surgeon General’s analysis, confirm that advertising them contributes to underage smoking and drinking.
Critics have raised concerns about the widespread advertising of violent media, including movies and video games, that is specifically aimed at children. The Federal Trade Commission has conducted three reports that provide significant evidence supporting these concerns. Although the direct impact of this advertising on children’s media preferences has not been assessed in studies, it is strongly believed that such advertisements have an influence on children.