The Ethics Behind Advertising To Children

The Ethics Behind Advertising To Children

Advertising isn’t the issue, rather the sort of advertisements that children see is the real concern.
8945
views

The topic of advertising to children is one that has been under great debate for many years. Children are very impressionable by nature and today, they are constantly being bombarded with commercials and ad campaigns designed to seize their attention and curb their interests. For those in the advertising industry, it is very good thing to have an audience that can be so easily persuaded to want their products. On the other hand, this can have negative physical and mental effects on the kids who are observing all of these product promotions.


Misleading messages sent out to children by large media companies often go unnoticed by parents considering many of these kids now have their own cellphones and computers that are commonly used without any form of supervision. Additionally, a large number of children today receive allowances which they are able to spend freely without having to consult with their parents, so the likelihood of a child falling prey to untruthful advertising is far greater than it used to be. Not only do children have control over their personal funds, they also have considerable influence on the flow of their parents’ spending because these kids put pressure on them to purchase the promoted products.

Another cause for concern is deceptive phone applications directed at children which are shown to be free, but have hidden fees within the app. In these instances, the initial download of the game application has no cost. However, when children are playing the game, there will be fees to gain other features or different levels. Kids who may be too naïve or not well-versed in how things are marketed can end up racking up quite large charges on their parents’ phone bill without them knowing until months down the road.


The advertising industry has made efforts to promote positive ideas to children such as diet and exercise. Through self-regulation, advertising agencies have shown movement in a better direction than before, but there is still a huge amount of money being thrown into this industry. While advertisers claim that current guidelines are providing adequate restrictions on advertising to children, it is interesting to see that around $17 billion dollars is used annually on promotions to children. This is an astronomical increase from the mere $100 million used in 1983.

While marketing to children is still an issue that needs to be addressed and monitored, there have been some progressive movements in the past to minimize some of the harm that comes with advertisement. Through legislative changes and verdicts reached by past cases related to children’s ads, the days of flashy, over-the-top, persuasive commercials and games is very slowly changing to reflect a more appropriate method of marketing.


Children learn things rapidly and in a world where media consumption is at an all-time high, there have never been more sources for children to learn from than ever before. Television and the Internet specifically are the greatest media transmitters of information, both of which occupy much of a child's time. It is important to recognize these facts because children's minds are extremely malleable—they are very receptive to new information. This is why there have been laws made to inhibit and prohibit advertising to children. A great deal of unfortunate behaviors and habits can be observed very quickly by just scrolling through a website or watching the commercials on a television during one's favorite program. Advertising as a whole has been under attack “because it is perceived as making kids want what they don't need and puts pressure on parents to respond to those needs." The question remains: is it ethical for corporations to directly market to children? In actuality, advertising isn’t the issue, rather the sort of advertisements that children see is the real concern. This ideology has led to rules issued by both the Federal Trade Commission and the Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the National Advertising Division of the Council of Better Business Bureaus. These rules focus mainly on being sure that advertisements are clearly separated from the program content and that the words and pictures in the advertisements do not mislead children who have limited cognitive skills, as their brains are still developing.

Although children are developing their own purchasing power and influencing that of their parents, they must still be advertised ethically and fairly. Product claims must be specific and factual, especially when it comes to a consumer’s health. It is important to promote healthy alternatives to children to instill good habits at a young age.

As children continue to be exposed to more advertisements on a daily basis, advertisers must be more careful when creating ads that appeal to them. If advertisers continue to make unethical decisions, there will undoubtedly be more cases in which the FCC, FTC and FDA must combat them.


Popular Right Now

30 Things I'd Rather Be Than 'Pretty'

Because "pretty" is so overrated.
30407
views

Nowadays, we put so much emphasis on our looks. We focus so much on the outside that we forget to really focus on what matters. I was inspired by a list that I found online of "Things I Would Rather Be Called Instead Of Pretty," so I made my own version. Here is a list of things that I would rather be than "pretty."

1. Captivating

I want one glance at me to completely steal your breath away.

2. Magnetic

I want people to feel drawn to me. I want something to be different about me that people recognize at first glance.

3. Raw

I want to be real. Vulnerable. Completely, genuinely myself.

4. Intoxicating

..and I want you addicted.

5. Humble

I want to recognize my abilities, but not be boastful or proud.

6. Exemplary

I want to stand out.

7. Loyal

I want to pride myself on sticking out the storm.

8. Fascinating

I want you to be hanging on every word I say.

9. Empathetic

I want to be able to feel your pain, so that I can help you heal.

10. Vivacious

I want to be the life of the party.

11. Reckless

I want to be crazy. Thrilling. Unpredictable. I want to keep you guessing, keep your heart pounding, and your blood rushing.

12. Philanthropic

I want to give.

13. Philosophical

I want to ask the tough questions that get you thinking about the purpose of our beating hearts.

14. Loving

When my name is spoken, I want my tenderness to come to mind.

15. Quaintrelle

I want my passion to ooze out of me.

16. Belesprit

I want to be quick. Witty. Always on my toes.

17. Conscientious

I want to always be thinking of others.

18. Passionate

...and I want people to know what my passions are.

19. Alluring

I want to be a woman who draws people in.

20. Kind

Simply put, I want to be pleasant and kind.

21. Selcouth

Even if you've known me your whole life, I want strange, yet marvelous. Rare and wondrous.

22. Pierian

From the way I move to the way I speak, I want to be poetic.

23. Esoteric

Do not mistake this. I do not want to be misunderstood. But rather I'd like to keep my circle small and close. I don't want to be an average, everyday person.

24. Authentic

I don't want anyone to ever question whether I am being genuine or telling the truth.

25. Novaturient

..about my own life. I never want to settle for good enough. Instead I always want to seek to make a positive change.

26. Observant

I want to take all of life in.

27. Peart

I want to be honestly in good spirits at all times.

28. Romantic

Sure, I want to be a little old school in this sense.

29. Elysian

I want to give you the same feeling that you get in paradise.

30. Curious

And I never want to stop searching for answers.
Cover Image Credit: Favim

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The 2020 Race Is Feeling The Bern

Everything you need to know about Bernie Sanders entering the presidential race.

387
views

This morning, February 19, 2019, Brooklyn-born Bernie Sanders announced he is running for president once again.

Unlike his run in 2016, though, Sanders now joins a crowded field of progressive candidates, one of which is Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

In Sanders's own words, this campaign is "about taking on the powerful special interests that dominate our economic and political life". Sanders went on to say that this is a "pivotal and dangerous moment in American history," and "We are running against a President who is a pathological liar, a fraud, a racist, a sexist, a xenophobe and someone who is undermining American democracy as he leads us in an authoritarian direction".

In his interview with CBS, Sanders explained that it is "absolutely imperative that Donald Trump be defeated", and described candidates whom he is running alongside as his "friends".

Regarding policy issues, his focus remains the same as in previous years, planning to focus largely on women's reproductive rights, lower prices for prescription drugs, and criminal justice reform.

Sanders is also widely recognized because of his goal of universal healthcare. His Medicare-for-all bill that was drafted in 2017 outlines the establishment of a "national health insurance program to provide comprehensive protection against the costs of health-care and health-related services". According to estimates, however, such a plan would increase federal spending by $2.5 trillion a year.

When it comes to education, Sanders plans to make preschool for all 4-year-olds free, aiming to fund this plan through tax increases on the wealthy as well as Wall Street transactions.

More widely acknowledged is his "College For All Act", which would provide $47 billion a year to states in order to eliminate undergraduate tuition and fees at public colleges and universities. Additionally, the act would cut student loan interest rates nearly in half for undergrads.

In terms of social issues, Sanders is pro-choice when it comes to abortion rights and opposes policies which discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, such as Trump's push to ban transgender people from the military.

The New York Times discusses the idea that the political field of the 2020 run might leave Sanders a "victim of his own success", in that the multitude of Democratic candidates are embracing policies which Sanders championed in the last race.

"Ironically, Bernie's agenda for working families will be the Democratic Party's message in 2020, but he may not be the one leading the parade," said talk show host Bill Press.

Moreover, victories by women, minorities, and first-time candidates in the 2018 midterm elections suggest that "fresh energy" is preferred by Democrats, which potentially poses a challenge for Sanders.

Conversely, though, Sanders is also starting off with certain advantages, such as a "massive lead among low-dollar donors that is roughly equivalent to the donor base of all the other Democratic hopefuls combined".

Donald Trump responded to Sanders's announcement by saying, "First of all I think he missed his time, but... I like Bernie. He sort of would agree on trade... the problem is he doesn't know what to do about it. But I wish Bernie well."

By and large, Sanders is another strong candidate, and it will be interesting to see if he can generate the same energy and support now that he did in 2016.

Related Content

Facebook Comments