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Advertising Effects on Children

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The whole advertising process appeared about hundreds years ago. The first its well-known evidence dates back to the period of Babylon and, what is the most surprising, even nowadays it is a very popular way of getting some additional information. Media today takes a huge part of lifestyle, and not just American lifestyle. It is spread throughout world. Starting from the early nineteenth century, many psychologists had been discovering the whole issue, influence and the meaning of advertising process. Some of them thought that advertising makes the process of products buying and spreading much easier, while other psychologists and scholars thought that advertising either was a waste of time and money or that the only thing advertisement carried was a bad influence, especially on children. Moreover, many parents, as well as Trade Commissions, were complaining that advertisement is not a fair thing according to children’s naïve consciousness. Some mothers even stated that through the media, TV, movies, some companies can have a sort of control over their children. So, from all the information being said above, one can define that advertising process has negative sides as well as positive. It was opened long ago and discovered for so many years and, yet, there is no actual answer for the dilemma: if it is said that advertisement could have a bad influence, why then it had been so successfully operated through years.  However, what about nowadays’ advertisement? How doest it influence our lives or the lives of our children? Does it actually has its influence and what is the level and sort of influence? Moreover, one of the main questions is how can parents protect their children from the bad influence of advertisement nowadays when TV, Internet and all new technologies become not only available, but also very popular among today’s youth? Is it possible at all? Do they need to protect them?

First, one needs to remember that nowadays’ children are very different from all previous generations. Many of us heard the talks between relatives or friends that his or her child of a very young age managed to turn on TV or laptop and that is why exactly TV advertisement is the most widespread source of advertising influence on children. Of course, there is also a positive side of this, when lots of books or toys created for studying were advertised and known exactly through TV with the help of advertising process. However, let’s not forget about its negative part too. Advertising is one of the most persuasive ways to influence children. Moreover, nowadays with all these new technologies it is much easier for children to find a way to watch advertisements avoiding the parents’ control. Advertisement of cigarettes and alcohol, junk food, are one of the major points in the advertising market nowadays and, in most cases, exactly this kind of advertisement appears to be the reasons of children’s obesity, drug or alcohol abuse in future. In some European countries advertising to children is even forbidden, while in the USA this kind of marketing has found its prosperity. In America, advertising to children is just a business and it seems no one cares about the future of their young clients. There are even certain researches which have shown that children under eight years are simply defenseless against this kind of influence. Moreover, that is what the most companies are seeking for – younger and younger clients, who could help their business to prosper, creating a powerful, popular and expensive brand name. This applies not only to television advertisement mentioned previously, but also movies, billboards, Internet sources, special advertisement campaigns. For example, it is believed that movies with violence or horror movies, video games, were also advertised to children. However, now movies are rated, so that some of them require parents’ presence while watching. Still children somehow have an access to the forbidden movies. Moreover, not all cinemas control children’s visiting the R-rated movies, sometimes cinema directors just want to earn money, even though the consequences of it could be very bad. Video games, trailers with violence, are still put on the screen and advertised in theatres, on TV, in the Internet, and children find the way to have a free access to them. Nowadays even magazines, or at least the majority of them, also target on children as the easiest clients to get. Some of them are useful, while others are not. The most terrifying fact is that almost in every teen magazine or newspaper one can find lots of alcohol and tobacco advertisements. Moreover, sometimes the amount of these kinds of advertisements is much higher in teen magazines than in magazines for adults. It is shocking that most of the teens aged from thirteen to sixteen at least once tried to drink alcohol or smoke a cigarette. Is it all because the influence of advertising? More and more sites nowadays are centered on buying things directly from the Internet and, moreover, today teenagers have a free access to the world wide web.  A lot of the internet sites promote alcohol products. These sites’ content can vary from some small products to the full information about the main brands, including tobacco and cigarettes brands. Moreover, in the Internet you can find online games with virtual bars, the recipes of different drinks, including alcohol cocktails. Of course, of the majority of these sites have sort of tests aimed at assuring whether the visitor is aged over eighteen, but let’s face the truth - even a ten year old boy can simply click on “I’m eighteen” button and have a free access to every advertisement for adults.

Advertising nowadays is the sort of art. Advertisers throughout the world are using special techniques to attract both children and adults’ attention. For instance, the famous Coca Cola brand intentionally paid Warner Bothers so that its label could appear in the titles of one of the popular among children and teens movie series about Harry Potter. In addition, almost all fast food restaurants, including worldwide famous McDonald’s, use toys as the gifts that you can get by buying food from them, so that researchers stated that exactly after seeing these advertisements children demand to buy them fast food. It is one of the reasons why healthy food is advertised less. Food is everything for humans’ life and that is why food marketing is so highly popular and follows us wherever we are. Nowadays’ technologies only helps in spreading unhealthy advertisement. It is not a secret that almost every teenager has its accounts in different social networks that is why social networks turned into one of the major marketing sources. If earlier parents could limit one’s time near TV, nowadays this task became much harder to accomplish. Marketing, especially food marketing, is a very powerful thing. Although some US schools are trying to maintain different healthy food programs, or even forbid some sugar drinks or junk food, that does not exterminate the whole problem. Food marketing has persuasive and strong influence on children and teenagers, but the main thing we need to pay attention to is the result of these advertisements and food itself – children’s obesity. The level of obesity among teenagers in America is quite high and that is the scary thing. However, some states already adopted laws that forbid the outside spreading of fast food advertisements. These are the first steps, but if this limitation would have success, US nation could count on better future and better health for their next generations.

The last but not the least is the influence on children with sex advertising. It is a funny fact, but it has to be admitted that nowadays parents do not need to think how to tell their children about sex, commercials will do it for them. With the advertisements of shampoos or clothes, there is always an advertisement about condoms, healthy sex life, drugs against sex dysfunction or birth control drugs. One could say it is a good thing that with the help of these advertisements youth would be taught how to have healthy and protected sex life. Although, what if the viewer is a 5 year old child?! Nowadays in most schools around the world there are special sex education programs. Although there are facts that teenagers do not become sex active at younger age because sex advertising. All these sex and not only sex advertisement with the anorexic models caused the increasing rate of using diets, mostly by young girls.  To conclude these points, one can appreciate how good sides of advertisement come with bad sides of it.

Of course, the advertisements power, the power of its messages is persuasive or even compelling. One can certainly notice how sometimes their child can repeat the full content of the advertisement with the scaring for parents desire to have this or that product. Marketing can affect not only children’s health, but also their behavior. For example, some researchers have shown that while watching healthy food advertisements children sit quietly in the same position, when while watching the joyful advertisements of junk food or candies children are not only dancing, but singing and, in a while, repeating the full content of it. However, all psychologists advice to give children their private life and private corner, yet, no one mentions that by giving this corner, parents should not forget to check on their son or daughter and explain the things and advertisements the young children can find in the Internet. Children do not always process advertisement in the way it actually is; they cannot interpret it mostly right and with critics. That is what marketing companies take their advantage from. They use psychological researchers, they use defenseless children’s mind and just affect them. One can ask where the way out of all these advertisement’s affects is. The answer is that in this case almost everything depends on parents. They need to control or, at least, try to control, monitor these all influences on their children’s minds. They have to not only yield, but also learn how to be strict to their children’s demands and wishes when it is needed. Parents need to learn how to say gently and, at the same time, strictly “yes” or “no” to their sons or daughters. From the early childhood and even later, parents need to monitor their children in what is right and what is wrong; what they can do and what they cannot. It is not children who have the right to dictate to their parents. Children have to know that what parents are saying to them is better and more useful. Advertising companies, in their turn, need to think globally and not only try to affect children, with bright pictures and joyful music, but, instead, to affect the whole family and gain the trust of the whole family. This will help to balance the whole advertising process and decrease the negative effects of it.

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