Term Papers on The Effect of Television Advertising on Children

The effect of television advertising on children has been tremendous. Anderson and Butcher, 2006 (as cited in Warren et al, 2008), noted a clear link between the increase in junk food advertising on television and increase in child obesity cases in the U.S. Mintel, (1998), Cited in Hogan 2005, relates the shift in preference of children from development toys to electronic games to the increase in advertising spend and advertising exposure of the later to the former evidenced by the entry of bigger and more powerful players like Sony and Microsoft into the market. Yes there have been abuses. Harrison and Marske, (2005) in content analysis of United States food adverts noted that just 5% of the adverts focused on healthy foods, the rest were on what could be considered junk food. They also noted that unhealthy foods took four times the recommended amount as detailed by the USDA.

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The tendency is always to blame the advertisers for everything. The failure however is to see that in themselves, kids do not have direct purchasing power. What they have is persuasive power defined as “parental yielding” by Solomon et al, (2010). This is what happens when the parent who is the decision maker in the household surrenders to the requests and demands of the child. As such the one really making the decision at the end of the day is the parent. In his research findings Hogan (2005), identified that the parent who actually does the funding of the child’s request is equally or even more vulnerable than the child even though they are overlooked in the marketing approach. When one looks at the consumer decision process especially how the child comes to a decision concerning a product, we see the role of influence on the child. Through watching their parents, older siblings in the family as well as the media, children become consumer socialized. Via the process of classical and operant conditioning the child comes to learn what is acceptable and what is not. I am sure if a study is made, we would see that most obese children come from obese household as their dietary patterns would have been picked up from an older member of the household.

Responsibility lies both in the hands of the parents and the society. It is certainly what the parent allows that would run in the house. As a parent I have a choice to decide what my kids would watch and what they would eat. No amount of advertising can change that unless I want to. No matter how much advertising is targeted at the kids, it is the one with the funds that makes the decisions. Solomon et al, (2010), introduces us to the different parent type as such we have the authoritarian parent who would not allow their kids stuff and the neglecting parents who would allow just anything. There are however in-betweens. The whole reason for being a parent is to model life for the child and point the child to the way he/she should go. If a parent abdicates that right, why should we blame advertisers? An advertiser creates persuasions to influence consumer behavior. He is rewarded with purchase decisions if he gets it right and the corporation he represents stays in business.

Advertising to children is quite okay especially when seen that it is actually advertising to the adult as suggested by Hogan, (2005). The child receives modeling and consumer orientation from the society and parents who by themselves should act as watchdogs over the child’s consumer behavior especially as they are the ones that control the purse strings.

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