“Advertising Targeted Specifically to Children Should Be Banned”.

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“Advertising targeted specifically to children should be banned”. Why should such a radical proposition be considered?
To what extent would it be possible to enforce such a ban?
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Meet the TWEENS of Today: Energetic, enthusiastic, they have grown up faster, more connected, more direct and more informed. They have more personal power, more money, and more attention focused on them than any other generation before them. Gone are the days when were made of sugar and spice and all things nice, and boys were made of frogs and snails and puppy dog tails. Today’s generation, the KGOY (Kids Grow Up Young) generation has been tagged as the 'age of compression'. It influences spending of up to US $600 billion a year, and affecting close to 60 per cent of all brand decisions taken by their parents. Not surpris¬ingly, the tweens of today are exposed to around 40,000 commercials a year [Brand Child, Martin Lindstrom].

Brands are more popular among today's tweens. They have become an integral part of the way they define themselves. It's the way they express who they are at home, at school, at parties and even on the Net. It has become a part of their existence. Children have viewed an estimated 360,000 advertisements on television before graduating from high school. Additional exposures include advertisements on the radio, in print media, on public transportation, and billboards.

Is it fair to advertise to children, who are said to be sometimes unable to distinguish between reality and fiction and between entertainment and advertising? A supposed consequence of advertising is that children are being persuaded to demand things that they don't need and to adopt consumerist values, lifestyles and attitudes in their formative years.

There have been numerous studies documenting that young children under 8 years of age are unable to understand the intent of ad¬vertisements. They accept advertising claims as true and cannot distinguish advertising from regular televi¬sion programming. Advertisers have also become adept at circumventing rules and minimiz¬ing warnings. For example, the disclaimers "some assembly required" or "when eaten as part of a com¬plete nutritional breakfast" are spoken rapidly by the announcer or shown in small print, and are not un¬derstood by most children. The main aim of televi¬sion to the commercial children is to sell products to them, with food and toys being the two most frequently advertised prod¬uct categories. Advertisers generally use two ap¬proaches to sell their products. The traditional method being, commercials placed in programs that are attractive to children. These commercials promote products unrelated to the program being shown. The second approach began in 1982, featuring toy action figures as the main characters of a program. Because these programs are often developed by the market¬ing division of toy companies to market specific toys, they are frequently referred to as "program-Iength commercials."[American Academy of Padiatrics] In toy linked television series, the program and "advertising" content are inter-twined. The child is encouraged to want the toys associated with the characters in the series. It’s usually a whole team of toys rather than just one, and play is not seen as satisfactory unless the child has the whole team. Due to the ease of making spectacular action and effects, the toys are frequently related to violent cartoon series, and via the plots, the child is encouraged to play with them violently. Findings from research [Schooler, C and Flora, J A, 1996] indicate that the amount of time that a child spends fantasising about violent acts is likely to increase the impact of the violence. Thanks to advertising, children have become convinced that they are inferior if they don't have an endless array of new products. With a rise of competition in the market and a rise of the competition of products within...
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