Sociology 2172A/B Lecture Notes - Lecture 12: American Psychological Association, Age 13, Jean Piaget

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SOC 2172A – Advertising & Society
Week 12 Readings: Advertising & Children
Dec 1
GIMME GIMME GIMME! DO CHILDREN NEED MORE PROTECTION FROM ADVERTISING?
It is easy to blame advertising for certain ills of children
Children are vulnerable, unable to fully understand the messages of advertising
American Psychological Association has called for a ban on advertising to children under 8
It is impossible to filter out the “media waste” – audience members that the advertisers are not
targeting
Corporations provide substantial funding for public education
Researchers argue that there is a fundamental difference between advertising geared to adults
and advertising geared to children
Ads geared to adults tend to focus on brand loyalty, whereas ads geared to kids focus on
merchandising tie-ins
Advertising bans surrounding children are supposedly meant to protect a vulnerable group that
can’t protect themselves
Argument: yes, children need protection from advertising
“Consumerized childhood”
Although children have minimal disposable income of their own, they have heavy influence on
their parents’ buying decisions – “pester power”
Research has shown that 1-year-olds can make brand associations
Children do not understand the distinctions of fantasy vs. reality as portrayed in advertising,
don’t have the cognitive skills to discern deceptive and manipulative messages
Children’s television advocacy groups are suggesting that ads should regulate their levels of
manipulation
Pediatrics claim that young children shouldn’t be exposed to advertising because they are
unable to understand its purpose and strategies
Children who are least likely to understand advertising seem to pay the most attention to it –
can’t differentiate between program content and advertising
Characters in food ads are helping children make choices about food and drinks
Food ads directed toward children encourage a diet of sugar, fat, and empty calories
Children are exposed to advertising disguised as programs – “toy-based programs” such as “He-
Man and Masters of the Universe” and “Justice League”
Creates a sense of “hyper-consumerism” among children – teaching them to be materialistic
FCC has required “separators” between television programs and ads directed towards children –
we’ll be back after these messages, we now return to our program
Commercials also include disclaimers – products sold separately, some assembly required, part
of a balanced breakfast
Children don’t understand the disclaimers, largely as a result of the language used – you have to
put it together vs. some assembly required
FCC also limits the amount of time advertisements can take up within children’s programming
Argument: no, children are smarter than we think
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