Marketing Towards Children

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An Argument Against Current Marketing Practices Towards Children

Marketing ethics deals with the morality of principles and techniques that companies use to advertise and promote their products. An important issue concerning this deals with the ethics of marketing to children, as there are many concerns when it comes to this topic. Marketing to children only is unethical because children are naïve, impressionable, and lacking knowledge and experience, they make easy targets for marketers.

Children are at a stage in their life called proximal development. At this stage, children take in elements of their environment and use in their life. In other words, they take in what they see and hear, and view the substance as fact. They are not yet able to distinguish the truth from fiction, and are unable to see through the schemes and ploys marketers use to sell their products. An example of this is when marketers advertise on children’s programming in the afternoons and on kids’ networks such as Disney, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon. At such times, parents are usually not there to watch with their kids, so marketers are able to bypass parental supervision and market directly to the kids. Children are unable to spot the manipulations that marketers use in their advertising, and as a result, the ads create desires for the children to obtain those products at all costs. In order to market ethically, marketers must adhere to the principle of balance. The power of their marketing must be equal to the level of the consumer’s ability to comprehend and weigh the arguments towards the marketer’s product. Since children are unable to weigh those arguments, marketing to children inevitably leads to exploitation in the vulnerabilities of the children.

Alarmingly, a recent trend shows marketers hiring more and more psychologists to create ads for children. Since psychologists know the way a child’s mind works, they are able to help marketers make ads that are aimed...
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