Influence of Advertising on Children
The world is dealing with the paradox of choice, and manufacturers are going to new lengths to make advertisements that make their products stand out from the crowd. Today, ads are popping up everywhere – on billboards, in print, between the phone games you play, on social media platform feeds, in your emails, and even in text messages!
While these advertisements can sometimes be informative and help you make an informed choice, they can affect children and even influence their decisions and personality. So, what are the effects of advertising on children, and how do they present themselves? Read on to find out more!
Positive Impacts of Advertising on Kids
Some of the positive effects of advertising on children are:
1. Source of Information
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.
2. Presents Healthy Choices
Healthy food choices advertised the right way can also prompt the child to opt for a more balanced diet.
3. Teach Good Habits
Certain advertisements – those for hygiene products, for example – can help inculcate good habits in the child.
4. Motivate Them to Chase Their Dreams
Advertisements may also have motivating content encouraging 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.
5. Impart Good Values Through Examples
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.
6. Promote a Sense of Community
Certain advertisements that carry content relevant to social change can help promote empathy and a sense of duty towards the community in children.
7. Encourage Them To Be Mindful
Environmental protection advertisements also call children’s attention to the problem and can encourage them to be a part of the solution.
8. Warn Against Harmful Substance Use
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 on Kids
While advertisements have a few positive influences, they fail to outweigh the negatives. Some of the adverse effects of advertising on children are:
1. Leads to Behavioural Problems
Persuasion to purchase a product they like can be a real problem. As advertisers direct their marketing strategies towards children, parents may have a stubborn child demanding that they buy a specific product for him.
2. Causes Negative Interpretation of Information
The advertisement’s message may be misinterpreted, and children may focus mainly on the negatives rather than the positives.
3. Motivates the Performance of Dangerous Stunts
Certain advertisements portray stunts that can be very dangerous. Although they come with a statutory warning, they may often be ignored, and kids may attempt to imitate these stunts.
4. Promotes Impulse Buying
Every manufacturer wants a recurring business, which leads them to create flashy advertisements. This results in the development of an impulse buying habit in children.
3. Presents an Unrealistic View of the World
False imaging is another issue with advertisements that unrealistically present things or events; children tend to fall for them.
4. Encourages Materialism
Advertisements may also develop a materialistic idea of the world in the children. When their innocent minds are regularly 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. Advertisements can also be a leading factor in influencing a child’s choice of toys, clothes or luxuries.
5. Encourage Bad Eating Habits
Many of the food items advertised are junk food and are visually appealing. These can influence the child’s eating habits and promote an unhealthy lifestyle.
6. Creates Low Self-Esteem
Children may also tend to have lower self-esteem if they believe themselves inferior for not owning the advertised products, especially if their friends possess these items.
7. Imparts Negative Values
The sexual objectification of women in some advertisements is a cause for concern as children grow up to think that this is the norm.
Certain advertisements use comparative visuals, mocking a person using a different product. This can instil the concept of inferiority and superiority in children as they 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 behaviour is acceptable.
8. Blurs the Lines Between Reality and Imagination
As many adverts successfully blur the line between real and reel life, children tend to believe the facade and lose touch with reality.
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 essential for parents to become active participants in helping their children develop critical judgement of the advertisements and teaching them the value of the non-materialistic comforts in life.
Here are a few things you can do to reduce the adverse effects of advertisements on young children.
- Cut down on screen time. Limit the time your children can watch TV or use mobile phones and the computer. Monitor the content that your kids are watching.
- When your child asks for a specific product, initiate a conversation about why they want it. This will give you a chance to explain to them how advertising works.
- Do not give in to your child’s demands if you are convinced that the product being asked for is unhealthy for your child.
- Point out the flaws in the advertisements that you cannot shield your child from and give your child a realistic picture. This can help develop a critical judgement in the child.
- Try to download television programs to avoid watching advertisements with your child.
- Help your child learn the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ and teach them to only ask for what they need.
- Impart positive values in them to differentiate between right and wrong. Children might still make mistakes, so sit them down when they do and teach them how to correct such behaviour in the future.
- Warn them against the negative effects of consuming certain foods, products or harmful substances that might look tempting in an advertisement.
- Teach them the value of money and show them how to swap out the expensive things they covet for cheaper items to still gain the benefits and joy they seek.
- Show them the benefits of reducing waste, recycling old items, and reusing things that are still in working condition rather than buying new things.
1. What are the rules pertaining to advertising targeting kids?
The laws regarding advertising to children vary from country to country. In the US, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) defines what information websites can collect from kids and gives parents specific controls. FTC regulations, which pertain to health and safety advertisements, and regulations for advertising food and beverages and mature content are also in place.
2. What age group is most susceptible to the influence of advertising?
Children and adolescents are the most vulnerable groups that are easily influenced by advertisements. So, it is crucial to monitor the influence such advertising has on children’s behaviours, and parents should put strict controls in place to ensure that it does not negatively impact them.
In a world of innovative advertisements almost everywhere, it will be hard to shield your child from being exposed to most of them. It is essential to consider how advertising affects children’s mental health. Advertisement agencies have tried out every medium to advertise products, from television to print and billboards to luggage tags in the airport. Your 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 your child about the finer concepts of the marketing world and monitor the influence of advertising on children’s behaviours.