What is the Problem?

Advertisers are able to easily reach younger audiences through many different mediums. The reaction and effect the advertisement has is based on the age of the audience. Younger kids sometimes have a tough time understanding what they’re seeing, whereas older kids understand what they see and they can have more of a consumer effect.

Up to the age of three, children think that objects on video are real and exist in the TV set or device. In an online article, Report of the APA Task Force on Advertising and Children, there is information about the growth in advertising appealing to children. With cable, then the internet, then channels and websites dedicated to children. It is common for children to have televisions in their room, and many kids don’t always have supervision when it comes to the television and internet. With children accessing media easily at young ages increases advertising intended for children, there has been a drastic increase in money spent on advertising from the 1970’s. There is mention about cognitive development and advertising and that most young children don’t have the mindset to notice the difference in advertisements and programs. It also talks about the effects of advertising on children and how advertising typically achieves its intended effects. Children are most likely to ask for things they’ve seen commercials for, and that will influence what their parents purchase. Sometimes advertisements can become a source of a conflict between a child and parent if the parent denies the child’s request. Advertisements for kids are commonly unhealthy food options which can be linked to obesity and poor health. 

Believe it or not, teens process approximately 3,000 advertising messages every day, most of them discreet and a good portion of them related to junk food and beverage consumption. In an article, Cons of Advertising to Teenagers, written by Elle Smith, discusses why and how the advertisers target their younger audience. The market of teens causes a major attraction to advertisers because teens are more susceptible to to fall under the spell of buying the various brands through commercials. Between the range of 10 through 16 years of age, these teens are at their most crucial developmental stage. Most of them are trying to find out who they are as a person as well as how they can properly fit into their society. If they fall under the spell of advertisements, this could completely shape the teenager’s identity without them even knowing. Teens process approximately 3,000 advertising messages every day, most of them discreet and a good portion of them related to junk food and beverage consumption.

In the article, Children as Consumers: Advertising and Marketing, Sandra Calvert addresses product marketing to children and shows that although marketers have targeted children for decades, two recent trends have increased their interest in child consumers. First, both the discretionary income of children and their power to influence parent purchases have increased over time. Second, as the enormous increase in the number of available television channels has led to smaller audiences for each channel, digital interactive technologies have simultaneously opened new routes to narrow cast to children, thereby creating a growing media space just for children and children’s products. Calvert explains that paid advertising to children primarily involves television spots that feature toys and food products, most of which are high in fat and sugar and low in nutritional value. Newer marketing approaches have led to online advertising and to so-called stealth marketing techniques, such as embedding products in the program content in films, online, and in video games. All these marketing strategies, says Calvert, make children younger than eight especially vulnerable because they lack the cognitive skills to understand the persuasive intent of television and online advertisements. The new stealth techniques can also undermine the consumer defenses even of older children and adolescents. Calvert explains that government regulations implemented by the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission provide some protection for children from advertising and marketing practices. Regulators exert more control over content on scarce television airwaves that belong to the public than over content on the more open online spaces. Overall, Calvert concludes, children live and grow up in a highly sophisticated marketing environment that influences their preferences and behaviors.

With the advertisements shown today, many minors are exposed to advertisements for alcohol and tobacco which can be linked to youth smoking and drinking. The information that kids see in the media can shape who they are in both good and bad ways. There wont be anything we can do, right now, to completely control the information kids consume, but we can help limit the negative information. There have been some steps already taken, but there is still more to do. 

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