Is It Ethical to Market to Children?

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For-profit corporations increasingly tend to infiltrate (overtly and subliminally) our lives. One example of their interference is marketing strategies aimed at children. Adult consumers are like roaches: they tend to become “immune” to classical marketing strategies and advertisements. Today, corporations tend to by-pass this phenomenon by marketing to children instead: money is indirectly extracted from adults by manipulating their children. There are two main reasons why marketing strategies target children: because of the persuasive power children have over their parents, and because they simply are easier to manipulate. At this point we have to ask ourselves: is it ethical to market to children? Should children be protected from being marketed to?

In my opinion, it is unethical to market to children and to exploit them as consumers from such an early age on. What makes children special is their ‘pure’ way of thinking: they are still untouched by everyday preoccupations and live life accordingly to their carefree and embellished perception. Children do not know the meaning of the words intrigue, greed, and hypocrisy. But by marketing to children, corporations entice materialistic desires and selfish behaviour children would not manifest as strongly if not confronted directly by these strategies. Marketers create a world of needs, desires and dreams around children which eventually leads to the classical supermarket scene all parents fear: their kids starting to scream uncontrollably, tears streaming down their cheeks, suddenly throwing themselves down onto the ground, refusing to leave until the parent gives in to buying their object of desire. Even though this kind of behaviour is (to some extent) natural with children, marketing strategies clearly accentuate these uncontrolled outbursts, fostering consumer-related attitudes of materialism.

It is important to note that as opposed to adults, children still have to develop and consolidate their...
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