Are Advertisers Ganging up on Children?

From the time we are born, we are constantly bombarded with advertisements. As an adult, I can easily recognize when companies are marketing to me. But what happens when advertisers target children who don’t yet understand the persuasive intent of advertising? I think this can have a detrimental effect on children’s health and well-being.

To demonstrate where I’m coming from, I would like to first point that advertisers sometimes market unhealthy food to children. After visiting popular kids websites, I noticed several banner advertisements promoting sugary cereals. As we know, sugary snacks can lead to cavities, as well as more serious health problems, including obesity and diabetes. Oddly enough, these health problems continue to increasingly impact children in the U.S.

My biggest issue is when advertisers market dishonorable values to kids. Skechers’ “Daddy’s Money” campaign is just one example of this. The shoe company’s advertising slogan,“Get spoiled with Daddy’s Money, ultra-cool shoes that put you in the spotlight,” makes children believe they aren’t “cool” unless they own a pair of the sneakers. As a result of campaigns like Daddy’s Money, kids think they need material objects in order to be happy.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think all advertisements aimed at children are bad. Goldieblox teaches young girls that it’s okay to play with “boys toys,” hoping, one day, those girls will grow up to become engineers. Watch the toy company’s advertisement here:

I think the appropriateness of advertisements that target children should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Some may argue that parents should be responsible for monitoring what their kids see. I would argue, however, that expectation is somewhat unrealistic. For example, children may be exposed to advertisements at school, sleepovers and other places where their parents are not around.

What do you think? Should there be rules regulating advertisements aimed at children? Or should parents be responsible for censoring what their children see? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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