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How does Advertising Affect the Minds of Young Children?

Updated on February 14, 2020
Nyamweya profile image

Nyamweya is a Kenyan scholar who has done many years of research on a diversity of topics.

Over the past years, various marketers and promoters have used advertising over either radio television or social media to reach a given section of the population. Today’s children have been heavily impacted by advertisements. These advertisements range from logos to songs, to characters, often with the advertisers tweaking them a little bit to fit their target audiences. Advertisers currently are focusing on the young population to sell their products. The heavy competition has caused them to shift their focus to the young children. these young children also offer a fresh market for these products, mainly because they are a new group which free from other information of competing products, thus the first product they are encouraged to buy will have a higher chance of buying it. The children are thus targeted using various toys, animated characters and catch phrases in the competing new advertisements (Perseet, al. 2016).

Sut Jhally in his article, image-based culture, he refers advertising as part of a discourse through and about objects as not only does it explain on how things are linked but also explain to us on how these things are important to our lives (Jhally, 2003) Pg. 77-87. Advertising uses image and gender identity to representation men and women as central components in their strategy to get attention and for persuasion. However sometimes, when an organization uses these portrayal of gender, they sometimes use these portrayals, of sexuality and end up distorting children’s perceptions and offer little information which balances out the sexuality it stresses. Thus current advertisements have distorted the desired features, ending up being obsessed with sexuality. This results in most children seeing or hearing the commercials but end up not getting the messages being put across. For the children watching televisions, they are exposed to all channels airing advertisements sending out mature messages to a young immature audience. Various mechanisms should thus be implemented to guard children against receiving wrong information at early ages, or to help them understand the advertisements massages in a positive manner.

In the textbook used in class (Reese, 2010), the advertisement is described to have numerous methods in which it can hook individuals so that they can buy their products and services.” Advertising company thus surround children with tailored information to trap children mind so that they can manipulate them into desiring the products those companies are offering. Through magazine adverts, television and cartoon advertisements, children are bombarded by on advert after another. This advert show them, how these products can enhance their status among their friends through making their friends envy them. Advertisements, offer food or a particular catch phrase, children are easily preyed on by advertisers.

Almost all the marketers and promoters are acquainted with the fact that the minds of children grow at a fast rate, thus they are fast at grasping and remembering information they have come across than adults. Hence, they have tailored more and more advertisements in the available media, mostly television to target the young children when they are marketing their products. Advertisements normally aired during the children promote a variety of products, ranging from stuff like toys, energy boosters, food items and apparel brands.

Although the advertisements are mostly short length, averaging between ten and twenty seconds each, the constantly repeated screening, especially their visuals and content, deeply impact the young. This is because brains are easily influenced by what they see and hear. Children of these days are more exposed to a variety of advertisements, from the print media like magazines journals, newspapers to the social media like Facebook, etc.

Certain television advertisements have been made with a genuine intention to convey awareness of certain brands, with emphasis on them not giving wrong messages, are useful to the young children. an advertisement, for example, on biscuit brand, that has associated ‘Genius’ in its advertisement campaign, may pass the intended message to the children to refine their creativity, hence, helping in motivating them into true geniuses. Due to this types of advertisements, children will begin to realize and recognize brands and can help their parents in making a decision on what products they can buy when they go shopping (Perse&Lambe).

In addition, an advertisement which focuses on oral hygiene, they use of health supplements and or other good routines will motivate the children. take into account, an advertisement about a child collecting coins to start her own savings will encourage the young audience to also collect coins and start saving. this advert will help the children in focusing on togetherness and family: this will give the children a positive impression as they will try to emulate the child in the advert. The young children will want to perform duties they see children in the advert performing as they want to make their parents happy.

These positives advertisements cannot outweigh negatives of certain advertisements. Certain advertisements create a stubborn attitude among children. when children come across a certain advertisement, they become stubborn and pester their parents to purchase certain products. This can be due to the advertisement giving the products a face value which the children will use to judge the product using it and recommending its purchase, whether useful or not, or whether the family can afford it or not (Sontag, 1977). These advertisements will make the children form a habit of using certain brands, thus losing the real sense of living life free from the material assets(Utter. et al, 2006) pg. 606-612.

An advertisement which uses comparison among two or more brands, products or people, will foster a habit in children of doing the same. Children consuming these advertisements will start to compare themselves amongst their friends, peers, and siblings. This will result in them considering their friends’ superior or inferior to them(Dittmann). For example, adverts showing children insulting another child because she took a longer time to wash her hands, maybe because she did not use the brand being promoted, will create this habit among the young children.

Moreover, certain adverts will show children behaving in inappropriate ways. This in appropriate was included talking back to parents without showing respect. This behavior is not something the young should learn. In addition, a certain product which make appeals for the grownups, will not be appropriate for the young children.

Further, certain advertisements use professionals performing professional stunts to advertise their products, mainly the energy drinks. Although these advertisements are accompanied by warning about not trying them at home, children are likely not to pay much attention to these warnings and go on to imitate these stunts by themselves at their homes. This is unsafe for the children and mostly results in injuries to the children.

Certain advertisements promoting aerated drinks and junk foods will build cravings for these food stuff, resulting in adverse effects on the children health (Wiecha,et al 2006) Pg. 436-442. As children are young they fail to realize that the excessive intake of these fast food has harmful effects and that homemade food have a better nutritional value. Much research in this area have been undertaken, and they prove that the children are more likely to eat junk food after watching some related advertisements (Boyland&Halford, 2013) Pg. 236-241.

Most of the children watching television are age eight and below. This group does not understand fully the main messages that accompany the catchy songs or the cartoons, commercial companies employ advertising to entice them into purchasing the products they are offering(Dittmann). Advertising thus brainwashes children into believing their product is the best and can influence their parents when they are deciding on buying a product(Utter. et al, 2006) pg. 606-612.

Generally, advertisers use advertising to utilizes the power of suggestion to sell a product. To promote ones’ product among children to increase sales is thus not wrong. Parental guidance should be provided to children to avoid the nation’s youth from being entangled in advertising, such that their innocence and youth may not erupt faster than previous generations. Most of the food companies will target children hoping that these children can influence their parents’ choices when they are buying products (Boyland et al, 2011) Pg. e93-e100. It is important to understand the impact of an advertisement before rolling put to different advertising channels. This will allow the advertisement to be made with care and caution to avoid sending the wrong message, both during production and approval levels. The parents should also act firm when making purchase decisions, and not always listen to their children’s demand. The parents should also teach their children not to be influenced by the advertising messages and to learn to value money. Finally, children should be given an innocent childhood. It is paramount for all the stakeholders, advertisers’ stakeholders and the parents should ensure that children are free from a world full of materialism and a life that is healthy and happy.

Work Cited

Boyland, Emma J., et al. "Food commercials increase preference for energy-dense foods, particularly in children who watch more television." Pediatrics 128.1 (2011): e93-e100.

Boyland, Emma J., and Jason CG Halford. "Television advertising and branding. Effects on eating behavior and food preferences in children." Appetite 62 (2013): 236-241.

Jhally, Sut. "Image-based culture." Gender, race, and class in media: A text-reader (2003): 77-87.

Perse, Elizabeth M., and Jennifer Lambe. Media effects and society. Routledge, 2016.Reese, S. (2010). Framing public life. New York: Routledge.

Wiecha, Jean L., et al. "When children eat what they watch: impact of television viewing on dietary intake in youth." Archives of pediatrics & adolescent medicine 160.4 (2006): 436-442.

Sontag, Susan. On photography. Macmillan, 1977.

Utter, Jennifer, Robert Scragg, and David Schaaf. "Associations between television viewing and consumption of commonly advertised foods among New Zealand children and young adolescents." Public health nutrition 9.5 (2006): 606-612.


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