Advertising to children

Advertising to Children Today we are all bombarded by various forms of advertising. On the way to work or school, we see billboards with flashy ads; we read magazines filled with colorful ads and watch television, saturated with advertising. Advertising has become as common in our everyday life as a bowl of cereal in the morning. One of the most alarming and growing trends in advertising is targeting the most vulnerable group of our society, children. It seems like the ads for sweets, fatty foods and other items are everywhere; even schools and school transportation are subjected to this trend. However the most popular way of reaching young audience is through various media channels, such as TV, Internet and others. Advertising to children is an alarming and troubling issue that needs to be addressed and regulated; otherwise our unhealthy society will get worse with each passing year. To be able to talk about the impact of advertising, and especially advertising to children, we have to look at the media impact on children. Media has a very important place in people’s life, whether we like it or not. Exposure to media has increased tremendously in the last fifty years. The way in which it influences our lives is especially evident in children’s development. Much of children’s formative development is spent interacting with television and computers. Just as many violent acts by kids can be linked to violence in music and video games, other problems are emerging, that are linked to such a lifestyle. Obesity can be caused by a sedentary lifestyle in which much of the time is spent watching television. Lack of interaction with family can lead to inadequate development of social skills. According to the Henry J Kaiser Family Foundation “children are consuming vast amounts of media, from television to music to books to video games and Internet” ( It is obvious that with the advance in technology and its availability, the time children spend in front of TV or computer increased exponentially in the last decade.

Most of children’s television is filled with advertising geared towards kids. The food industry spends millions of dollars promoting unhealthy food products. “These are processed foods which contain high levels of fat, sugar, salt and include crisps and savory snacks, soft drinks and other so-called ‘fast’ or pre-prepared ‘convenience’ foods. Children are persistently exposed to commercial messages promoting these foods: on television and radio, on the internet, at the cinema, in comics and magazines, on packaging, and even at school.” (Sustainweb) Most of the companies use cartoons, and popular children’s movie characters to promote their products.” The nation’s landscape is littered with junk food masquerading as health food, candy and candy like cereals featuring kids’ favorite cartoon characters and toy like packaging.” (Wallis). Thus kids, especially the ones of young age, are unable to tell the difference between the television program and the advertising. According to an organization that “advocates food and agriculture policies and practices that enhance the health and welfare of people and animals” (Sustainweb), “advertising which is geared towards kids has higher repetition rate, thus imprinting even stronger and more memorable images of many products into young minds” (Sustainweb). As mentioned before, most food advertised is usually unhealthy. Companies that are selling healthy products have only a small share of on-air advertising time. This is due to the high cost of the ads, and smaller profits from the products they sell. In addition to that, a lot of product packaging information contains misleading or incomplete nutritional information on the product label. In today’s increasingly obese society, this is a growing problem as a whole; even the adults are not capable to fully comprehend the labels and the food additive codes printed on the packaging. Advertising of tobacco products is also increasingly geared towards teens. Although sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products to minors under 18 years of age is illegal in all 50 states, more and more young adults are beginning to smoke. According to The Food and Drug Administration “Each day, almost 3,000 young people in the United States become regular smokers, and nearly 1,000 of them will die prematurely from diseases related to tobacco use” (FDA).
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