Advertising’s Effect on Children

Well after the poll that I think 8 people voted on, this topic was the most favored. Now since the topic doesn’t really specify a negative or a positive effect, I choose to focus on the negative effect. So…here it goes.

Advertising has a rather negative effect on children in today’s age. Commercials, billboards, magazines, etc. all have some sort of effect on the person looking at it. In the modern age, advertising as a whole has become a lot racier than it used to be. They’ve become more capable of portraying things that are relatively hazardous to be something that’s good or needed or “cool”. The bad thing about all the new type of advertising is that it has become more accessible to children via the internet, television programs/commercials, and out in public through the use of magazines or billboards. Companies are beginning to take more liberties with how they advertise a product and, in most cases, it’s giving something negative a positive skin. The bottom line here that can’t be argued is advertising affects children in negative ways and I believe that it affects them in positive ways less and less.
Mainly, I think the advertisements today are slowly teaching children that there’s a certain “image” they need to follow or be a part of. Basically, “this is what you need to use, what you need to wear, what you need to look like, and what you need to act like in order to be part of the cool crowd”. So, more or less bandwagon techniques are being used more and more. The funny thing is that pretty much any advertisement for pretty much any product is doing the same exact thing. Yeah, it gets that company a sale, so who cares, right? Nike shoes, for example, always have some person doing all these athletic things like jumping really high in the air, or someone that’s running a marathon, or something of that sort and it always looks ‘really cool’. Basically, those are just the absolute best  shoes you can possibly have, and children see this and suddenly they feel like they need to have them to fit in. The same goes for any name-brand clothing item.
This technique holds true with every other item on the market right now. iPad, iPod Touch, Droids, Kinect, Wii, television sets, headphones, games, everything. It’s teaching children to think they need to have the best of everything there is on the market, which slowly causes them the be spoiled by their parents that buy them what they want. Then when the next advancement comes out, suddenly they need to have and what it replaced suddenly becomes a pile of dog shit. Advertising is causing kids to have no regard for the little, simple things of life and it makes them want to have the best of the best.
Girls are effected by advertising when it comes to the magazines that have all these models in them and advice columns for how to behave to make friends or other stupid shit like that. Makeup ads are teaching young girls that they just absolutely need to look great on the outside to get noticed, and now it’s becoming about how long your eyeliner stays. Young girls see these types of ads and strive to conform to them, which I think is causing somewhat of a lack of self-worth.
This type of advertising is everywhere, really. A majority of it is aimed at adults, but little children see it as well and watch as their parents fall into the same trap of buying this and that because the ads make it look like the best thing since sliced bread, so the children follow suit.

Now we all have to admit it here; we’re all guilty of wanting to have  something because an advertisement made it look like the best thing in the world. But as we grow older, we begin to develop a sense of what’s needed versus what’s wanted and if it can be afforded or not. Children, on the other hand have no knowledge on any of that, they just automatically think that they need whatever it is and have no worry about how obtainable it is. I think because there’s the lack of knowing what’s needed versus what’s actually wanted in children, they become more susceptible to growing that mentality of “this is the best thing out there right now and I obviously can’t live happily without it.”
To make the issue even worse, parents know the value of the dollar. When a child takes interest in the newest name-brand technology, for example, and they want their dad to buy it for them but the dad knows it’s too expensive and he settles for a generic brand that’s close to the same as the name-brand. So they give that generic to the child and bam, it’s the end of the world because it doesn’t say ‘iPhone’ or something like that. So not only are the advertisements teaching children that they need the best of the best, it’s also teaching them to settle for nothing less than the best of the best.
It’s just all negatively impacting the children I think and setting them up for a rude-awakening later in life when they can’t learn to differentiate between necessities and desires.

To make matters worse, the advertising just gets better and better at doing what it does, which causes the negative effect to become stronger and harder to avoid.
So how far is too far when it comes to advertising? All these companies are doing what they can to make things look needed and that there’s nothing better. Does parenting come into play?

Tell me what you think about it. This was somewhat difficult for me since I’m not as in tune with advertising as I used to be, but I’d like to hear what your views are. Is the effect of advertising good or bad on the children?

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5 responses to “Advertising’s Effect on Children

  1. “ads make it look like the best thing since sliced bread” I liked it. I totally agree with it being negative.
    Going to try it in an argumentative way, It could be the parents who are at fault. The advertising companies are just doing their jobs and if the parent’s are not doing a good enough job to show the kids why they cannot have certain things, or if they go out and get them everything they cry about, what are the kids going to learn. Yeah younger kids are going to hurt more if they don’t have those things because kids generally want everything. But if the parents were better about those kinds of things, then when a child sees this advertisements, they will begin sorting out reasons why it is not needed. So the more exaggerated an ad is to grab attention, the more children can develop their ability to distinguish needs and wants with each ad they watch.

    It could be a positive thing for children also by them wanting it. Parents could use advertisements in order to teach their children “the value of a dollar”. If the child feels they cannot live without it. Giving small chores or things and getting paid for them so that they can save up money is a good way to teach a lesson. Even so, after realizing what the child had to do to actually get it, if they buy it, they can brag as they enjoy doing. Or not buy it and save money for something more important so as to say they did not save all the money just to throw it all away. It could apply to children of any age group. As for the endorsed products, magazines and every other materialistic things, parents could show their child to see inner beauty and not be conformists or follow the crowd to experience individuality.

  2. This was really interesting to read. I find it hard to actually find proof that advertisement can have a positive effect on children. I have to agree with Erica though, children may be exposed to negative advertisement, but if the parents set a bad example the kids will follow, just like you said, so the parents have blame in this partially. It really is the parent’s responsibility, but I have met adults who don’t always know “the value of a dollar” and it seems that ignorance is the biggest enemy here. Even though the majority of advertisements are negative, the companies are just doing what is best for them. I can’t really see them as the bad guy, or at least not the ones to completely put the blame on. It seems to me that it is a mixture or bad parenting and the society. There is a lot of bandwagon advertisement but celebrities have a big impact too. I don’t think that in all cases a celebrity is wearing nike’s because they like the style, I don’t doubt that they are paid to wear merchandise and in some cases, they too believe it is “cool”. Parents are only to blame when they indirectly support children becoming huge followers of what is being advertised. The rest is just how society has changed to become this crazy place where you have to be in the “in crowd”. It all comes down to the way people think. I am sure things can change and people can be smart enough not to fall for advertisements if they only took the time to think and come back to the reality of things. What worries me sometimes is when I see a commercial or a poster that is positive and is trying to persuade young adults to not do drugs or smoke but it doesn’t seem to have an impact. I get a feeling that people don’t take positive advertisement seriously and it just adds to the choices people and kids eventually make.

    On another note, you do such such an amazing job in expressing your opinions. If this is how you express yourself when you don’t know a lot about the topic, it will be interesting to see what you have to say on a topic that you are “in tune” with.

    • Yeah, exactly. So many factors come into play but the main ones are the parents and what I talked about.
      And it’s interesting that you brought up the fact that positive advertisements rarely work. It seems like people only respond to the negatives because they’re easier to follow I guess.
      And thank you 😛

  3. I believe that it is the parents responsibility to teach their children the value of the dollar and that everything they see on TV might not be telling the whole truth.
    On the other hand the advertisers are just doing their job, they are not the ones that create the product.
    I think that ads are slowly starting to become more positive towards kids. I see ads that are directed at my son that are for Leap Frog products and I buy him some of them, but definitely not all, since I have to watch $$. Leap Frog is a great company and everything they make is educational. If I didn’t see ads for it I might not have heard about this company until I was in the store, and I might have missed it. I have also seen ads that are promoting going outdoors and the benefits exercising that are directed at children. These kinds of ads need to be played more often.
    Thank you for the article and the great perspective. Even though I went the total opposite way.

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