Advertising is a form of expression that for most provides compelling imagery while promoting a product. Advertising directed at children cannot be made with rules and procedures of typical advertisements because children -unlike their guardians- are dependent advocates of our society. Issues revolving around children’s advertising are: reasons why it is harmful, regulations practiced in Canada, and lastly, problems with enforcing those rules. With different strategies and concept within the arena of advertising, most of it is designed in such a way as to captivate and manipulate the mind.
Before a commercial works to influence someone to purchase or establish a liking towards a product, such influence varies depending on what viewers know about the aims of advertising and how much they believe in what advertisers tell them. When it comes to advertising directed at children, it is crucial to note that because young viewers haven’t yet developed critical skills to interpret an ad, they are thus easily affected cognitively, behaviourally as well as emotionally by it.
(Zarry 133) With the overwhelming mass of glamorized images containing carefully planned out messages, children fall into corporate traps, because they simply lack the necessary cognition skills to be able to distinguish between fact and fiction. This can result for the ‘very young’ to be also the ‘very nai?? ve’, living as they do in a world that is part imaginary, part real, children often times do not register the differences between the two. Problems begin when while watching a televised program children fail to register the difference between the program and the ad itself.
The regulated few minutes of highly attractive content, in turn results with unnecessary family conflicts as children end up pleading with their parents for things they do not really need, but they just have to have nonetheless. Apart from many other forms of media, which find manipulative ways to make profit off children, the special nature with advertisers is their claim of having an input in educating kids to learn to cope with the consumer society, which is part of the real world in which they live.
(Gunter 38) That advertisers think of themselves as logical educators is one thing, but to imply that children have no way to opt out -of the way our society works so they might as face the exposure at an early age- is not only absurd but also it clearly underlines that all innocence ought to be renounced at the cost of socializing over-materialistic ways. (Ibid 40) While advertisers seek to extend a ‘helping hand’, they ignore children’s ability to process and evaluate ads containing values regarding social roles in our society.
(Zarry 142) Subjects to countless toy commercials, children willingly feed off systematically reinforced social values telling them what they ought to buy in order to better identify with their own gender. By focusing on the details, advertisers find a sure way to better promote their designated product. For example, Mattel commercials of Barbie haven’t changed much as even as I was a kid the value of women remaining feminine was just as equally stressed as it is now.
Advertising to children is indeed a harmful form of advertising as it shows that advertisers’ set of thinking produces more undesirable effects than beneficial ones. The concern of advertising directed at children has always been a hotly debated topic, especially among those who carry the weight in producing beneficial content for youth under the age of thirteen.
The audience under thirteen falls into a category of a person who generally lacks proper sense of awareness to be able to perceive whether commercial messages are truthful or not. (Gunter 13) The responses to this concern vary, nonetheless there are three models in the Canadian advertising industry regulating the frivolous ways of the commercial world: the Broadcast Code for Advertising, the Commercial Acceptance Policy, and the Consumer Protection Policy.
With legal conditions existing in Canada, one cannot simply regulate in every detail the various advertising techniques so to ensure socially desirable advertising. Therefore the development of a code such as the Broadcast Code serves as a direct frame of reference towards the social obligations of the business community. (Cohen 39) Apart from expressing its rights, the advertising industry clings on to what arises within the mind of a growing child as progressively taught consumer values.