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Advertising to children

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I have been gettng more and more irate lately about advertising to kids. McDonald's, other fast food chains, Disney, etc. are putting our kids' mental health and physical health on th line to make a buck. Anyone else upset? I think that if cigarettes can't advertise to kids, there is no reason that fast food chains should be able to, considering that obesity is the number one health problem in minors in America. Are there any campaigns to end this? If not, would anyone be interested in starting one?
post #2 of 17
I agree with you that it's morally wrong for companies to advertise to children, but I don't think it should be illegal. [Nor do I think cigarette advertising should be banned from television.] Limiting speech in this way sets the stage for greater limits down the line, because no one can agree on what makes advertising or writing or art or whatever "exploitative."

The less we financially support these companies, the less power they will wield. Unfortunately, it's unlikely they're going to be brought to their knees by "Mothering" readers, even if we all stopped eating fast food and buying Barbies.

There are a lot of ways to limit kids' exposure to these messages, but no way to eliminate them. Our best mode of defense, I suppose, is to try to point out to our kids the ways advertisers are manipulating us. I don't know how well that will work with young kids, but luckily, the younger they are, the more we can keep them away from advertising.

[The ads that perturb me the most are the Calvin Klein and Gap ads that sexualize 7-year-olds. Who is more likely to buy after seeing them? Pedophiles?]

Good luck!
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am big on free speech, but I don't think it should apply to advertisements. If it did, companies could use subliminal messaging, or advertise children smoking, or any number of awful things. In this country, however, it seems that companies have more rights than the rest of us.
post #4 of 17
Thread Starter 
One more thing- we don't need to make advertising to kids illegal to get rid of it. Legally liquor can be advertised on TV, but it isn't. Companies can legally do a lot of things that are horrible, but they don't because consumers would be outraged. It's time to get outraged.
post #5 of 17
This is an interesting dilemna. I just recently have access to television after not having it for 4 years. The advertisements that disturb me most are the pharmaceutical companies pushing the lastest cure-all. Even more disturbing is when they start listing the possible side effects. Yikes!

On one hand, I don't want my dd exposed to any of this garbage so I would like it banned, however, I see srain's point about the slippery slope. I do agree that the best way to deal with it is probably to limit our children's access to it, and not support these companies. Even better, we can write letters to these companies telling them why we will not support/buy their product and what we think of their advertising.
post #6 of 17
Where can you find info about the ways that corporations target children? There was that article in Mothering a year or two ago and right now there's a notation on the Mothering website about how Channel One is lobbying in congress to be exempt from a bill which would somehow curtail ads directed at kids. I need to do some research so that I can make a good case against letting the advertisers into my children's school. (See my thread about corporate presence in schools.) Right now, I think the other PTO members think I'm crazy and a spoilsport who is ruining their fundraising efforts.

Also, our school system is getting a new superintendent. Parents and teachers will be allowed to participate (minimally) in the selection of the new super. I'd like to submit intelligent, well researched info about this topic in order to help find a superintendent who feels as strongly about this as I do.
post #7 of 17
"I am big on free speech, but I don't think it should apply to advertisements."

That's a good idea, but it's very hard to decide what constitutes "advertising." And even if we get past that, who is to decide what is OK and what is not within advertising? Is it OK to advertise Cabbage Patch Kids but not Barbies? Stonyfield Farms yogurt but not McDonalds?

You're right, there are ways to change corporate behavior other than through the legal system, but I can't think of a single one that will keep corporations from advertising to kids. Boycotts, letters, etc. would be coming from such a small minority in this case that they're unlikely to be effective. [They rarely are.]Lobbying television stations are probably your best bet, but they get a lot of revenue from these ads!

Keep talking to everyone you can about how consumer culture harms our children and try to instigate a big social change. That's my best advice! While I talk to a lot of people about this, I'm too chicken to make it sound like I'm judging their choices, so I'm probably not too effective.
post #8 of 17
There is an excellent website that adresses advertising and consumerism in general, with a special section devoted to advertising to children in schools. http://adbusters.org
They also have great spoof ads that can be downloaded.
post #9 of 17
I can't stand marketing to children... such as all the commercials that are specially created and slotted during childrens programs and cartoons... they are only made to make kids want these foods or toys, and to get them to beg mom and dad for them... and ultimately, really just to keep the consumer culture rolling.
I don't watch TV. I won't be raising ds watching TV.
But advertising does exist all over the place: in the gas stations, magazines, bill boards, radio, etc...
I believe in educating children on consumerism, and the motivation behind advertising... as well as educating them on all these products and services... some are "good" ,some are "bad'. Let's teach our kids why coca-cola is crap, and why a natural juice spritzer is a better choice... lets teach them openly and honostly about toys and their connection w/ child-labor and sweatshops... lets teach them about greed and trickery in advertising... etc. etc. etc.
It doesn't work to hide our little ones from all the wrongs of the world, we need to empower them through knowledge and teach them to make responsible choices.
post #10 of 17
Thread Starter 
I don't think it matters whether it is Stoneyfield Farms or McDonalds. Advertising uses psychology to plant an idea in our heads that we want or even need a certain product. They use imagery and dialogue to make our current lives seem inadequate without that product. It should not be directed at children, no matter what. It is all well and good to say that your children will have limited exposure to it, and that you will teach your children to see through the advertising, but what about the rest of kids? I can guarantee that a large number of kids, perhaps even most, are not taught about this at all. Many kids are left to watch the tv for hours a day, with no parental guidance. Is it ok to let all of them be brainwashed into needing McDonald's? Or Stoneyfield Farms? I don't think so.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
I love Adbusters! I found this great article at http://adbusters.org/campaigns/comme...x/doctors.html

<In Europe, the Swedish government reviewed research on children's ability to understand advertising and now prohibits all commercial TV ads directed at kids under the age of 12.

Lars Marén, a Swedish government spokesman, explains the decision in language to chill any Saatchi & Saatchi exec: "TV advertising targeted at young children does not stand the most fundamental rule of advertising ethics: that advertisements should be easily recognizable as such, namely by those who form the target group."

The psychologists' letter can be viewed at www.essential.org/alert. >
post #12 of 17
Just read scary statistic: the average American watches 3hours and 46 minutes of television a day. This means that by the time your 65, you will have watched 9 years of television.

post #13 of 17
Education about advertising is important. My children and I sometimes have discussions along the lines of "Why do you suppose they show a beautiful woman driving that car they're trying to sell?" I've also tried to teach them the difference between their wants and needs and we've discussed how advertisements tell you that you NEED to buy stuff.

When ds was 5 and eating Cocoa Puffs at his grandma's house, (She always stocks the junk cereals), he was reading the box and said to me "Mom, there's a bad ad on this cereal box." When I asked him what he meant he said "This ad says that I need Cocoa Puffs. I may want Cocoa Puffs, but I don't need them." So I guess the lessons are sinking in.
post #14 of 17
In some cases it's obvious, but how can we draw a line saying "this advertising is directed toward children/ this advertising is not"?

I worked on a study observing third grade classrooms and found several classrooms teaching about advertising. It's great!
post #15 of 17
Hey, Yammer that reminds me of your "I want my kids to be really smart" thread. I loved that one.

post #16 of 17
Today I was peeling oranges for my children's lunch boxes and I noticed little stickers on the oranges that said "Grinch soon available on video and DVD!" Even our fresh fruit is tainted with ads! What's next? Will the icing on Pop Tarts form advertising messages? Will little prizes pop out of bags of frozen peas?
post #17 of 17
Yammer, you're a riot. :LOL

I'm also disturbed by the way advertisements seem to be taking over the world! I mean, even sporting events - we now have things like "The Coca-Cola Figure Skating Challenge" or the "Continental Airlines Stadium." It's kind of Big Brother-like in a way, no?

I had heard that marketing to children was not allowed in Europe, and that sounds great to me. This is why I won't let dd watch any commercial television. We watch some shows on PBS, but we usually stick to videos, or I'll tape some programs for her, like Blue's Clues, which I think is a good show but the commercials on Nickelodeon are horrifying! They're all for junk food and really crappy toys, and the commercials themselves are so full of stereotypes - like the boy riding a cool bike while a group of giggling girls look on admiringly. Ugh. :mad:

When I was teaching, we would often get free supplies like textbook covers for the students that were covered with advertisements - I never gave them out! I think it's important to teach our kids to view advertising for what it is - people trying to get our money in whatever way they can! I liked to teach my students about this in school, and I plan on teaching it to dd, but at age 3, I think i am serving her best by limiting her access to such things. I will not let corporate America turn my dd into a mall rat!
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