The Effects of Advertising on Children: What is the Responsibility?

November 5, 2012 · Posted in Health and Body, Social Interactions 

The Effects of Advertising and Children

Have you ever given much thought to the effects of advertising on children?

It’s an issue that warrants serious discussion for a number of reasons, the least of which is how advertising can influence the buying habits of children right now as well as when they become adults.

But is advertising to children beneficial or harmful? Should more be done in order to regulate it and make sure it falls within certain guidelines?

These are questions we’ll explore in this post, so keep reading to learn more about the effects of advertising on children and what it all could potentially mean.

 

The Effects of Advertising: Brand Name Recognition and Association

There are certain names that we associate with different products. When you think “fast food”, the name McDonald’s comes to mind, when you think “soda” it’s probably Coca-Cola.

The companies that own these brands spend obscene amounts of money getting their names out there through media like print, television, radio, and the internet, so it’s safe to say that advertising is everywhere.

Many people see this as a problem because they find the constant barrage of ads to be an annoyance, but many people find this to be a particularly huge problem for children because of how impressionable they are.

There appears to be more of an outcry with some items than others, with things like fast food, sodas, and sugary cereals being among the leaders of the pack. The worry is that by bundling commercials for these products with cartoons and other television shows that children watch, or using product placement in movies they watch and video games they play, that will create a desire on impressionable young minds and lead to excess consumption of what are generally unhealthy foods.

Take a look at this article about the effects of advertising on children. It links a long-standing ban on fast food advertising to children in Quebec to a reduction in fast food spending and resulting obesity.

After seeing those results, it’s clear what the implications are when it comes to the advertising that children are exposed to when it comes to food.

It could be argued that this also extends to clothing and the perceived status that comes with owning items from one company over another, regardless of whether the quality of one is superior to the other.

They might see a favorite athlete pushing a certain type of sneaker, or a celebrity idol endorsing a particular clothing line and that will likely create a desire to own that product in order to be like the person they admire.

While this sort of susceptibility is certainly possible with adults, it can be an even larger issue among children who might not yet have the reasoning ability to question the effects of advertising or the claims that are sometimes put forward by companies trying to market products specifically to them.

So, should more be done to try and curb this activity until children are better able to reason and make decisions that benefit them?

 

Where Does the Responsibility Lie?

When thinking about the effects of advertising on children and who should be held liable for what kids see on the television, it can’t be argued that much of the obligation rests with the parents, but there is plenty of debate about whether or not the companies should exercise some responsibility as well.

But do the food, clothing, toy, and other various manufacturers have a responsibility concerning what they advertise and how it might affect target audiences?

It’s no question that companies have a legal obligation, but is there a moral one?

Many would argue that being socially responsible is the cost of doing business, while others say that corporations are amoral by nature and focus on profit above all else.

So what do you think about corporations, the effects of advertising on children, and the responsibility that these entities have to their consumers as society as a whole?

Are they morally obligated to only provide beneficial and informative advertising?

Is it something that should be regulated?

Should they only worry about profit and the legal obligations?

What are your theories?

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