Positive And Negative Impacts Of Marketing To Children

Introduction: The world is dealing with the paradox of choice and manufacturers are going to new lengths to make their product stand out from the lot. Advertisers know that the earlier kids learn about a brand, the more likely they’ll be to buy the product later (or beg their parents to buy it). Marketing to preschoolers mostly entails commercials on television (or streaming services), since television is still the dominant medium for young children. Children’s brains are evolving immensely in the first years of human life and marketers begin to take advantage of them as soon as they possibly can. Marketers are oblivious to the effects they have on children.

Use of Product Placement: The usage of product placement to get children’s attention is displayed through many different types of media. As shown in the video, Consumer Kids, product placement is seen in television shows, movies, and online video games. Also, marketers use online advertisements to target children. Advertisements are online video games that use their product for the basis as a fun interactive game to attract younger minds. Children get extremely immersed into video games and the marketers use that to their advantage to make them constantly play their games. This affects children as “children are often unable to distinguish between the commercial message and the non-commercial content”. This is an example of manipulation which is further described later in the paper. Once the children are immersed in advertisements, they automatically have a better feeling toward the product even though they are oblivious to what marketers are trying to do. This is an example of how advertising is getting increasingly more complex and raises the question if it is ethical or not. The use of product placement and advertisements by marketers shows us that they are targeting children without them even acknowledging it.

Tracking Data: Once kids turn 13, companies have little restrictions over marketing to them and collecting their data. The information they collect isn’t personally identifiable it’s far more valuable. Tracking teens’ digital trails helps companies precisely determine their tastes, interests, purchase histories, preferences, and even their locations so they can market products to them or sell that data to other companies. Talk to teens about using privacy settings and understanding what information they’re unwittingly giving to companies.

Positive Impacts of Advertising: Advertising can have both positive as well as negative effects on children based on the content, quality, and presentation of the advertisement. Some of the positive effects of advertising on children are:

  • They can be a source of information. Certain advertisements, especially public service announcements present innovations and technological milestones that can offer a good learning opportunity to the child. Moreover, they also educate the child about new products on the market.
  • Healthy food choices advertised the right way can also prompt the child to opt for a more balanced diet.
  • Certain advertisements for hygiene products, for example, can help inculcate good habits in the child.
  • Advertisements may also have motivating content that can encourage children to choose a profession or chase a specific dream. They can help them develop a passion for the same and work towards it from a young age.
  • Advertisements that present other children of a similar age engaging in activities like helping out in the house or saving can influence kids to do the same.
  • Certain advertisements that carry content relevant to social change can help promote empathy and a sense of duty towards the community in children.
  • Environmental protection advertisements also call the attention of children towards the problem and can encourage them to be a part of the solution.
  • Cautionary advertisements that reveal the consequences of alcohol and smoking can help children understand the risks associated, and urge them to stay clear of such products.

Negative Impacts of Advertising: While there are a few positive influences of advertisements, they indeed fail to outweigh the negatives. Some of the adverse effects of advertising on children are:

  • Persuasion to purchase a product they like can be a real problem. As advertisers direct their marketing strategies towards children, the parents may have a stubborn child on their hands demanding that they buy a specific product for him.
  • The message of the advertisement may be interpreted the wrong way and children may focus mainly on the negatives rather than the positives.
  • Certain advertisements portray stunts that can be very dangerous. Although they do come with a statutory warning, it may often be ignored, and kids may attempt to imitate these stunts.
  • Every manufacturer wants a recurring business, which leads them to create flashy advertisements. The result of this is the development of an impulse buying habit in children.
  • False imaging is another issue with advertisements that present things or events in an unrealistic manner and children tend to fall for it.
  • Advertisements may also develop a materialistic idea of the world in the children. When their innocent minds are regularly being exposed to content which portrays that having the best things is necessary for a comfortable life, it may make children give undue importance to material wealth.
  • Brand consciousness and an affinity towards expensive branded items can be developed. This may make them shun inexpensive things that serve the same purpose.
  • A large portion of the food items advertised is junk food and is very visually appealing. These can influence the eating habits of the child and promote an unhealthy lifestyle.
  • Advertisements can also be a leading factor in influencing the choice of toys, clothes or luxuries of a child.
  • Children may also tend to have lower self-esteem if they believe themselves to be inferior for not owning the various products that are advertised, especially if their friends possess these items.
  • The sexual objectification of women in some advertisements is a cause for concern, as children grow up to think that this is the norm.
  • As many adverts have successfully managed to blur the line between real and reel life, children tend to believe the facade and lose touch with reality.
  • Certain advertisements are known to use comparative visuals, which ultimately mock a person using a different product. This can instill the concept of inferior and superior in children as they start to compare themselves with others.
  • The visual portrayal of certain inappropriate acts in the adverts like lying or cheating can make a vulnerable child believe that the behavior is acceptable.

Government Prevention: The government has control over these companies to restrict certain types of advertising which can prevent marketers to target the younger audiences. In 1978, the US Federal Trade Commission proposed a ban of all advertising toward kids under the age of eight. This proposal did not go through congress however since it is a “violation of their First Amendment rights”. Even though this attempt to reduce child advertising did not become law, at least the attempt was made. Governments have released nutrient profiling, in that the child knows what is healthy and what is not. This prevents the parents, as well as the child, from buying products that are health risks. Government officials are working with school education programs to restructure the children’s minds to understand the importance of healthy food. These programs teach the advantages of eating healthy and the risks of eating unhealthy food. The government has a degree of control over how much marketers can manipulate adolescents.

Tips for Parents: Unlike a few years ago, the marketing efforts of brands selling children’s products or even certain adult products these days are directly targeted at children. Hence, it becomes important for parents to become active participants in helping the children develop critical judgment of the advertisements and teaching them the value of the non-materialistic comforts in life.

Here are a few things that we can do to reduce the negative effects of advertisements on young children.

  • Cut down on the screen time. Limit the amount of time that our children are allowed to watch TV or use the computer. It is also advised that we monitor the content that our kids are watching.
  • When our child asks for a specific product, initiate a conversation with them about why they want it. This will give us a chance to explain to them how advertising works.
  • Be sure to not give in to our child’s demands if we are convinced that the product being asked for is unhealthy for our kid.
  • Point out the flaws in the advertisements that we cannot shield our child from and give a realistic picture to our child. This can help develop a critical judgment in the child.
  • Try to download television programs to avoid having to watch advertisements with our child.
  • Help our child learn the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. And teach them to only ask for something that they need.

Conclusion: Finally, kids or teens are one of the most important demographics for marketers. Their brand preferences are still gelling, they have money to spend, and they exert a strong influence on their parents’ spending. Marketers are manipulating children to consume their products at a rapid pace and it has become a social issue in our society. Companies use product placement in television shows, movies, and advertisements. Advertisements force children to have positive emotions toward the marketer’s product which affects their spending later in life. Companies use advertising within schools which allows students to see their products on a regular basis. Advertisement agencies have tried out every medium from television to print and from billboards to luggage tags in the airport to advertise products. Our child will inevitably see and consume the content of these advertisements. Hence, the best way to prevent the negativity caused by these adverts is to educate our child about the finer concepts of the marketing world. As companies see the success of marketing to the youth, they will only continue to increase the level of this marketing. Based on this increased level of marketing some sort of intervention must be implemented.

 

Information Sources:

  1. parenting.firstcry.com
  2. commonsensemedia.org
  3. ukessays.com