The world is dealing with the paradox of choice and manufacturers are going to new lengths to make their product stand out from the lot. This translates to increased expenditure on advertisements and marketing and innovative ads that are hard to miss. While these advertisements can be informative and help you make an informed choice, they may have certain effects on children and go as far as influence their decisions and even personality, in some cases.
What Are the Effects of Advertising on Kids?
Advertising can have both positive as well as negative effects on children, based on the content, quality and the presentation of the advertisement.
1. Positive Impacts
Some of the positive effects of advertising on children are,
- 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 children about the new products in the market.
- Healthy food choices advertised the right way can also prompt the child to opt for a more balanced diet.
- Certain advertisements, those for hygiene products can help inculcate good habits in the child.
- Advertisements may also have motivating content that can encourage 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.
- 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.
- Certain advertisements that carry content relevant to social change can help promote empathy and a sense of duty towards the community in children.
- Environmental protection advertisements also call the attention of children towards the problem and can encourage them to be a part of the solution.
- 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.
2. Negative Impacts
While there are a few positive influences of advertisements, they indeed fail to outweigh the negatives. Some of the adverse effects of advertising on children are,
- Persuasion to purchase a product they like can be a real problem, as advertisers direct their marketing strategies towards children, the parents may have a stubborn child on their hands demanding that they buy a specific product for him.
- The message of the advertisement may be interpreted the wrong way and children may tend to focus mainly on the negatives rather than the positives.
- Certain advertisements portray stunts that can be very dangerous. Although they do come with a statutory warning, it may often be ignored, and kids may attempt to imitate these stunts.
- Every manufacturer wants recurring business, which leads them to create flashy advertisements. The result of this is the development of an impulse buying habit in children.
- False imaging is another issue with advertisements that present things or events in an unrealistic manner and children tend to fall for it.
- Advertisements may also develop a materialistic idea of the world in the children. When their innocent minds are regularly being exposed to content which portrays that having the best things is necessary for a comfortable life, it may make children give undue importance to materials.
- Brand consciousness and an affinity towards expensive branded items can be developed. This may make them shun inexpensive things that serve the same purpose.
- A large portion of the food items advertised is junk food and has a visually appealing advertise targeting young children. These can influence the eating habits of the child and promote unhealthy diet leading to obesity.
- Advertisements can also be a leading factor in influencing the choice of toys, clothes or luxuries of a child.
- Children may also tend to have lower self-esteem if they believe themselves to be inferior for not owning the various products that are advertised, especially so, if their friends possess these items.
- The sexual objectification of women in some advertisements is a cause for concern, as children grow up to think that this is the norm.
- As many adverts have successfully managed to blur the line between real and reel life, children tend to believe the facade and lose touch with reality.
- Certain advertisements are known to use comparative visuals, which ultimately mock a person using a different product. This can instil the concept of inferior and superior in the child as they start to 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.
Tips for Parents
Unlike a few years ago, these days, the marketing efforts of brand selling children’s products or even certain adult products, are directly targeted at children. Hence, it becomes important for parents to become active participants in helping the children develop critical judgement of the advertisements and teach them the value of the non-materialistic comforts in life.
Here are a few things that you can do to reduce the negative effects of advertisements on young children.
- Cut down on the screen time. Limit the amount of time that your children are allowed to watch TV or use the computer. It is also advised, that you monitor the content that your kids are watching.
- When your child asks for a specific product, initiate a conversation with them about why they want it. This will give you a chance to explain to them how advertising works.
- Be sure to not give into your child’s demands if you are convinced that the product being asked for is unhealthy for your kid.
- Point out the flaws in the advertisements that you cannot shield your child from and give a realistic picture to your child. This can help develop a critical judgement in the child.
- Try to download television programs to avoid having to watch advertisements with your child.
- Help your child learn the difference between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’. And teach them to only ask for something that they need.
In a world of innovative advertisements that appear just about everywhere, it will be hard to shield your child from being exposed to most of them. Advertisement agencies have tried out every medium from television to print and from billboards to luggage tags in the airport to advertise products. 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.
Have a conversation with your child about the strategies that are used to attract him. Help your kid understand that the advertisers are aiming at making sure that he ‘wants’ the product. This can help open up a conversation about advertising in general and help you protect your child from the negative impact of the advertisements.