1. BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Social influence is defined as “a change in an individual’s thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or behaviors that results from interaction with another individual or a group of people”. Social influence is distinct from conformity, power, and authority. French and Raven (1959) provided an early formalization of the concept of social influence in their discussion of the bases of social power. For French and Raven, agents of change included not just individuals and groups, but also norms and roles. They viewed social influence as the outcome of the exertion of social power from one of five bases: reward power, coercive power, legitimate power, expert power, or referent power. A change in reported opinion or attitude (conformity) was considered an instance of social influence whether or not it represented a true private change. Today’s children are unique in many ways from previous generations, but perhaps the most influencing on our young children today is Television advertisements. Today, everywhere we go we see some type of advertisement. 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. However, advertising to children does not only bring in funds from the children but more importantly, it generates what experts call “The Nag Factor.” The “Nag Factor” is when a child sees an ad for a product then cries and complains to a parent until the parent purchase the item (Dumont) 2003, Over half of all families have reported to agree with a child’s request just to avoid an argument. McNeal 2005 emphasizes the “Nag Factor” when he claims that, “2 to 12 year olds had an indirect impact on another $320 billion of household purchases. Over the last five years, there has been a substantial increase in the amount of influence kids have on durable goods—cars, boats, big-ticket items. According to McDonald and Lavelle 2006, “In today’s families, many kids also serve as chief technology officers. When it comes to computers and other electronic purchases. Even 7-year-olds may boast more expertise than mother or father. A 1999 survey by Yankelovich found that 60 percent of parents do not shop for technology without consulting their kids.” That’s just another reminder of the tremendous positive effects of advertising to children. Advertising is everywhere you look, whether it is in the newspaper you pick up daily or on that billboard you see while driving down the highway. Some people may say that they are not in fact influenced by the advertising that is thrown at them each day. and that they do not fall into it, but everyone does. Many children are often the target for most advertisers, because they know if they hound at their parents enough they will give in and buy their product, and everyone will be happy. Some advertisers try to portray more positive items to children, but many children are overcome with the negative ways of advertising. With television being the most popular way to advertise to young ones, the average American child may view as many as 40,000 television commercials every year (Strasburger, 2001). Schools are now even advertising to children without them being aware that they are actually doing it Food, clothing, toys are just a few of the many types of advertisements being influenced upon children daily. Many advertisements being directed towards children are that of food. Many of these food advertisements that children are being exposed to are products that are of low nutritional value. McDonalds spends roughly $570 million a year on advertising (McNeal 2001). Everyone knows that McDonalds is not a good place to find much nutritional value, and in turn will only lead to obesity in children. Now in many schools students are being rewarded coupons for Pizza Hut; and McDonalds for doing a good job in school. Why not reward these...
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