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The Effects of TV Ads on Today's Society

Updated on January 9, 2015

According Susan Linn, from the Baker Child Center of Harvard, kids eight years old and younger can’t really know whether the information contained in a TV ad is

TV ads target viewers aggressively. There are thousands of ads featured on every TV channel. Their power and influence can reach almost everyone. Only few people can say they don’t have any contact with TV ads. Whether you want it or not, you’re under their influence. This effect can be measured so you can see how you're really influenced by TV ads.

Increase in Consumerism

TV ads increase and change people’s consumption habits. Most TV ads show products that are often characterized as the trendiest, coolest items ever. TV ads create pressure, especially in young viewers, because they are often disappointed for not having what they see on TV such as the latest electronic devices. If you see a commercial one time a day you’ll probably record its message subconsciously, according to the City TV Web website.

Bad Habits

TV ads can encourage bad habits, such as drinking or eating junk food. Several studies have demonstrated that more Americans prefer buying alcoholic drinks because it's portrayed as a cool thing to do. The same thing happens with junk food. Smoking rates are also directly proportional to advertisement, especially on TV. These facts have been studied and analyzed by Henry Saffer, a research Associate in the NBER's Program on Health Economics and a Professor of economics at Kean University.

Social Pressure

TV advertisement creates social pressure for some viewers because these ads set ideal characters with ideal bodies and attitudes. This advertising conveys the message that if you want to be young, slim and beautiful like the girl you see on them, you just have to buy this or that diet pill, eat this product or quaff that nonfat yogurt. The TV advertisement industry is ready to exploit what someone lacks, making some viewers prone to buying a product in order to be like the person they see on TV. According to the researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Harvard Medical School, this depresses teens, making them anxious and insecure.

Effects on Children

The effects of TV advertising on kids are considerable. According Susan Linn, from the Baker Child Center of Harvard, kids eight years old and younger can’t really know whether the information contained in a TV ad is false or not. They internalize the content as being true, and this creates bad habits and fosters bad choices. This also produces the “nag factor,” which comes when the children cry and moan desperately, putting a lot of pressure and stress on their parents in order to get a product they’ve seen advertised on TV. The "nag factor" was coined by a US 1998 study on publicity made by Media Worldwide and Western International.


  • City TV Web: The effects of television advertising to society -
  • Los Angeles Times: Study links TV and depression -
  • TV Smarter: Depression and TV -


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