There was a time when people asked small children what they wanted to be when they grew up and the answer used to be ‘astronaut’, ‘doctor’ or a ‘teacher. But now-a-days the answer you most likely get is ‘make money’. Exposure to media and advertisements has hugely impacted on this new-age thinking of children.
Today, advertising is everywhere and almost every child gets influenced by them.
Advertising to kids has become a billion dollar business and big companies literally fight with each other to gain maximum attention of kids. This rampant marketing has started to acutely affect development of kids. It’s even invading the areas of learning and education, like schools, e-learning, etc. Kids have even started becoming more materialistic, which can be directly related to the sources of advertising.
Several child psychologists have found that the marketers are trying out different ways to target children through advertisements. The example of this can be seen when parents take their kids for shopping. The kids literally beg their parents to buy them the latest advertised toy in the market. Whether it’s the new video game or latest electronic toy, kids are drawn towards them. Most of the kids even feel that, if they do not have the latest collection, they won’t be liked by their friends. What’s more, according to a survey children under the age of 12 spend around $28 billion a year on toys, while the teenagers spend $100 billion on advertising stuff! These mind boggling figures tell us all why companies draw blood to advertise to kids!
In few cases it is found that some psychologists provide vital information to the advertisers, which will help the companies to target advertisements to kids more effectively. Things like, what colors attract children, what kind of language should be used, which jingles can be more appealing, what stuff kids find cool and other such tidbits are provided by psychologists to marketing companies. The misused information from these psychologists is itself proving to be a problem for ethical child psychologists. Due to this they have taken up the issue to the American Psychological Association (APA) and are trying figure out some solution to this rampantly growing problem.
What’s interesting is that there are few psychologists who support the ones providing information to the marketers. They do not see any harm in this practice and feel that by providing information to the markers they are indirectly helping kids to become better consumers.
When it comes to advertising to children, you as a parent or guardian, have to make your own conclusions. This subject is so complicated that there is no exact solution for it. What is ethical and what is unethical depends on your moral values. But one should be aware that a child’s mind is very delicate and it is on you how you want it to be molded.