Today's children are unique in many ways from previous generations, but perhaps the most influencing on our young children today is Television advertisements. "In 1997, the nation's estimated 34 million children age 12 and under will have spent or influenced spending of a record $500 billion" (Horovitz 1997). There is obviously a great deal of interest in this subject, many books have been written, and many studies and reports done on the effects of TV advertising on children. In the following paragraphs we will look at some of the reasons why we advertise to children, some different positive and negative effects of TV advertisement on children, how people can cut through the hype of TV ads and pick good things for their children.
Why Do We Advertise to Children?
Today, everywhere we go we see some type of advertising. A sale at the supermarket or a billboard for a radio station, are two of the many forms of advertisement. Currently, advertisements that target children are very controversial. Marketers choose children because they can easily lure them in. Advertisers spent $105.97 billion in 1980. This number more than doubled in 2001 when it reached $230 billion (Laws, 2003). In the year 2000, the Census reported 105 million househ0olds in America, meaning advertisers spend an average of $2,190 on one household per year. Advertisers spend this much money because of television. The average child sees an estimate of more than 20,000 commercials every year - that works out to at least 55 commercials per day (Laws, 2003). Children will insist their parents purchase what they see or hear on television. In the 1960's, children had an influence on about $5 billion of their parent's purchases. That figure increased to $50 billion in 1984 and tripled to $188 billion in 1997. James McNeal, a kids marketing expert, estimates children twelve and under will influence $500 billion of family purchases by the year 2000 (Laws, 2003). Children don't just have their parents buy their toys, but they make purchases of their own. Children's spending has roughly doubled every ten years for the past three decades, and has tripled in the 1990's. Kids ages 4 to 12 spent $2.2 billion in 1968 and $4.2 billion in 1984. By 1994, the figure climbed to $17.1 billion and by 2002, their spending exceeded $40 billion. Kids direct buying power is expected to exceed $51.8 billion by 2006 (Laws, 2003). No matter how you look at it, advertisers choose children because they are the most easily influenced and will spend their money if they find something interesting.
Only Good Things Happen When You Advertise to Kids.
There are not many people in the world today that would disagree with the fact that children are our future. Children are the ones that must carry on family traditions, continue to build and develop new public projects, and continue to learn and expand the knowledge of the human race. With that said it is important to understand that children are also future consumers. They are the engines that will drive the economy for the next generation, for advertisers the future is now. Advertising to children has long been a very successful way to build a solid consumer base that will win the minds of children in order to secure a lifetime of consumer purchasing. It may sound heartless but the fact is it works, and advertising to children is big business. According to the article "Kids Upfront Outlook is Grim" by Wayne Friedman and David Goetzl, "Companies spent about $800 million last year advertising on network, syndication, cable and local shows targeting kids aged 2 to 14." Eight hundred million is a lot of money, and advertisers want to see a return on that kind of investment. According to Karen J. Pine and Avril Nash in the article "Dear Santa: The Effects of Television Advertising on Young Children," people must "understand that the advertiser's motive is to sell a product." It is...