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Effects of Advertising on Children

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov
Are children really all that susceptible to advertisements? This lesson gives you examples of its possible negative effects, like parent-child conflicts, and examines whether advertising may have any positive effects on children and adolescents.

Children and Advertising

Growing up, you surely saw tons of commercials for toys, video games, cereals, even cigarette ads. Did you ever want to buy or eat something because of something you saw on TV or a billboard? You almost certainly did.

It's been said that children are often targeted by propaganda, advertising, and the like because they are more susceptible to being influenced by those things compared to adults. Is that true, though? This lesson will explain whether advertising really influences children or not and what positive and negative effects it may have.

Are Children Influenced by Advertising?

Let's answer the most pressing issue. Does advertising actually affect children? Yes. Children younger than 8 are essentially defenseless against advertising because they don't understand what advertising is. In general, they can't comprehend the concept of something being sold to them with an underlying intent, and many times they take what they hear and see literally. If the advertisement says the new robot is the best toy ever, kids may believe it really is. Time to go pester mom and dad to buy the best toy ever! Because of this susceptibility, countries like Sweden and Norway have forbidden advertisements to be directed at children younger than 12 years of age.

Additionally, research has indicated that advertising usually achieves its intended effect of establishing a brand preference in a child's mind. Children can easily recall the content of the ads they see and they may begin to prefer one product over another with as little as a single exposure to an ad. Further exposure to the same ad or a similar one will only strengthen their preference for a product or service aimed at children. Not surprisingly, this preference also affects a parent's purchasing decision. Since children aren't the ones actually buying the product on most occasions, that's the end goal of the ad, isn't it?

The Effects of Advertising on Children

As you can imagine, most of advertising's effects on children aren't positive. Research has indicated that ads affect a number of areas, and negatively so. One is the parent-child relationship. Ads targeting children may increase parent-child conflicts if the parent denies something a child wants to get. You can probably think of a personal example of that.

Many ads are created by fast food and junk food companies that target children's eating habits. Increased consumption of everything from candy to snacks and fast foods has been noted in children as a result of such ads. This may increase a child's risk for developing obesity, diabetes, and many other health problems.

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