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Linn (2004) bemoans that children have been turned into marketing baits in the contemporary capitalistic society. Commercial interests are taking over the societal significance of modern childhood. As parents strive to set standards on what is best for their kids, marketing experts are digging deep to reach and influence kids psychologically. In addition, marketers are very keen to ensure that they take over all aspects of children’s lives, thus partially commanding their social lives. This move is a well-calculated bottom- up approach, which seeks to influence the kids and make parents act.
The targeted kids will grow up as consumers of what they believe in, which is based on the marketers’ creations. Kids are at a risk, and this assertion highlights the main objective, which will be discussed throughout this paper. Apparently, marketers do not see kids as delicate humans anymore, but as commercial platforms to extend their market shares in the future. This paper will discuss the social dangers, which are rapidly consuming the young society. The paper will examine how marketers use culture and the socialisation process to influence the youths. Ultimately, the paper will highlight the role of sexuality and sexual assault in marketing before giving a conclusion.
The attractions between social relations and social institutions cannot be ignored since the interplay makes social life attainable. The economic system with the role played by free market economy relates directly to families, education, healthcare, and culture as pointed out by Tepperman, Albanese, and Curtis (2013). In a bid to understand how the social structures relate, the aspect of culture pops up. For instance, the western culture dictates what the economy should offer in terms of entertainment, food, and dressing amongst other lifestyle choices.
For instance, in the United States, marketers are solely trying to understand the economic system and reverse it. This aspect implies that they are innovating ways to control what the society needs. Experts in the advertising sector have thus been resourceful in achieving this reverse model. The easiest way to achieve this goal is by intertwining real life tales of marketing to the lifestyle of the kids (Linn, 2004). This move is another way of acculturation, but for this case, the child is developed to be a social detainee of the marketers.
As much as the parents might intervene, the technology in advertising is overwhelming and their efforts cannot match the displayed cunningness. The adverts do not advertise to kids in general, but they are specific as they advertise on ‘boys’ and ‘girls’. The purpose is to insist on who should buy what and why. A good example is skin-lightening products for bleaching, which are all over the market.
The culture insists on natural skin, but the market has to sell by implying that lighter skin is more beautiful as compared to its black counterpart. Kids will get such information from the media, as the branding of products displays two contrasting images for the kids to see and choose. The argument by neo-Marxists that culture helps dominant sectors in the society to maintain as well maximise dominance gains ground (Tepperman et al., 2013).This aspect implies that when the marketers succeed in confusing the society, they become the dominant sector.
Another culture of take and use grows and dominates in the long term. Therefore, culture becomes a social construct, which is a product of social action. The majority of adverts are directed to children who focus on the social action implied, hence a certain culture starts shaping, and brand loyalty ensues. Kids have turned attention to the adverts through media, phones, and product brands. Social platforms like social media have turned out to be the greatest role model for children. The adverts have adversely affected the changes and choices that children make in life not knowing that they are intentional targets of the conniving marketers (Bibby, Russell & Rolheiser, 2009).
Mass media is one of the booming socialising sectors in the contemporary times. It includes television, computers, magazines, and movies among others. Airing commercial adverts forms the backbone of mass media’s economies of scale. These adverts are directed to kids who are psychologically influenced to consume the products under question. Parents do not have much time with their children, and thus they can do very little to change the status quo or influence the future. Marketers use media to create self-awareness amongst children. For instance, the use of miniskirts to define the celebrity culture is a prevalent, but misconstrued marketing strategy.
Young girls admire such, and thus they are trapped in the fashion of revealing their bodies (Harris, 2004). Children spend a lot of time watching movies, playing games, or hanging out via the social media, which means that their socialisation will ape what they see and read over the media. Adverts on food products come in strange forms far from reality, and thus kids will like and consequently nag their parents to buy them the stuff (Story & French, 2004). Alcoholic products are branded with mighty names and images, and thus boys will want to relate and experience the majesty inside these small bottles. However, kids need to be kids, but not small marketers’ loyalists.
Today’s marketing practices were uncommon in the past, but currently, advertisers do not want to take responsibility, and thus they will claim to be doing their jobs. Morality has been lost in the capitalistic pursuits that define the agenda for most contemporary corporations across the world, and thus enslaving the future generation is virtuously acceptable as long as a profit margin is involved.
Targeting children is sickening and the magnitude of the effects are unparalleled and irreversible (Strasburger, Wilson & Jordan, 2013). Even in the education sector, corporations have stepped in to get closer and lure learners. As the documentary ‘consuming kids’ reveals, most commercial entities sponsor school programs with a hidden agenda of marketing their brand names, whilst children study. Most stores stock children products bearing brands of different industries, celebrities, or marketers. These children will love to be associated with such brands in the process the indirect advertising.
Sexuality and sexual assault
The majority of children do not have any idea of being a boy or a girl at an early age. Therefore, the parents assume the responsibility of creating such awareness coupled with elaborating what is expected of them in society. Unfortunately, the media has taken over this responsibility and marketers prowl on such opportunities to propagate their agenda. At an early age, kids are exposed to sexual assault movies, posters, and even products intended to enlarge feminine and masculine body parts. For instance, adverts encouraging the use of condoms are all over. Protecting oneself from sexually transmitted diseases is in good faith, but the timing of the adverts is poor. The adverts do not create disincentive for children’s accessibility to these products, which raises a moral dilemma.
Harris (2004) posits that some adverts are jingoistic as they seek to demean the role of women in society. For instance, they are labelled as homemakers, gossipers, and fashion models for the fashion industry. Kids get the message wrong, and thus girls will grow lying low and taking orders without questioning.
However, industries will never lack willing models to expose their bodies for fashion. In the past, nobody predicted that plastic surgery would be among the top surgical procedures of the 21st century. Marketers have succeeded in creating societal stereotypes of what is acceptable even if it is not beneficial to the human race. In addition, companies are using perceived beauty as a selling point or tool. From billboards to social media, perceivably beautiful celebrities are sending a message and setting the standards of what defines beauty.
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Therefore, in a bid to fit in the misconstrued definition of beauty, girls will pay anything to get boobs enlargement, while boys will use anything to acquire the portrayed masculine figure. Cases of divorce, dysfunctional families, and violence have gained popularity than ever before, and children are the first victims of such occurrences because they are vulnerable. Consequently, kids became depressed, and thus they find solace in games and social media (Strasburger et al., 2013). Unfortunately, marketers capitalise on the kids’ presence on the social media and they even seek advice from psychologists on how to make an impact on such a market share. Therefore, the marketers end up releasing films implying that divorce and violence are normal and humanity has to contend with such issues.
In the past, targeting kids in marketing endeavours was classified as social abuse; however, the trend is becoming the norm in modern times. Kids need to be treated with care, as they are delicate and if they get the wrong message from the right sources, humanity’s future is doomed. Adverts should be detached from influencing the kids’ way of thinking. If good policies on childcare are not put in place to regulate what content reaches then, kids will undoubtedly become little loyalists to conniving marketers.
Bibby, W., Russell, S., & Rolheiser, R. (2009). The Emerging Millennials: How Canada’s newest Generation is responding to Change & Choice. Toronto, Canada: Project Canada Books.
Harris, A. (2004). Future Girl: Young Women in the Twenty-first century. New York, NY: Psychology Press.
Linn, S. (2004). Consuming kids: The Hostile takeover of Childhood. New York, NY: New Press.
Strasburger, C., Wilson, J., & Jordan, B. (2013). Children, adolescents, and the media. New York, NY: Sage Publications.
Story, M., & French, S. (2004) Food Advertising and Marketing Directed at Children and Adolescents in US. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 1(3), 1-17.
Tepperman, L., Albanese, P., & Curtis, J. (2013). Principles of sociology: Canadian perspectives (3rd ed.). Toronto, Canada: Oxford University Press.