For companies to create awareness about their products or to persuade the consumers of their products, they use advertisements to reach this target. In most cases, the advertisements target the consumers’ needs by exploiting their demands and offering solutions. These advertisements always lead to increased consumption.
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One major group, that advertisers have targeted, is children (Media Awareness Network 2010). The strategy is based on the fact that children have substantial amounts of money to spend, and they also have an influence on their parents’ spending. The advertisements targeting children have diversified from sweets and toys in the past to clothes, fast foods, computer accessories, shoes, sports gear and even included some adult-relevant products such as vehicles.
The impact of advertising on children has been a subject of debate with different schools of thought arguing on their suitability. In Australia, children are said to constitute a significant proportion of spenders as well as largely influencing their parents’ purchasing and, thus, a major target for advertisers (Sharon 1998). This paper will weigh on whether TV advertisements aimed at children in Australia should be banned.
Why TV Advertisements Aimed At Children in Australian Should Be Banned
Australia has one of the highest proportions of children with obesity. Since 1980s, the prevalence has been on the rise. This has been attributed to the time children spend watching television. In addition, to reduce energy expenditure, there is the associated increase in food consumption resulting from the food advertisements on display. Australia has been shown to have one of the highest food advertisements rates per hour.
Unfortunately, most of the advertised foods fall below the recommended standards of healthy diets. Fast food restaurants and foods rich in fats and sugars constitute over half the number of food advertisements on Australian television (Coalition on Food Advertising to Children (CFAC) 2007).
The advertisements have been shown to influence children food consumption trends with a national nutritional survey in 1997 showing that only a small proportion of children consumed fruits. The consumption of fruits and other healthy foods was shown to decrease with increase in age in the children and was replaced gradually by high consumption of fast foods attributable, to increased awareness created by television advertisements.
With such a worrying trend, it would only be wise to ban such advertisements from television or stop airing them during children programs. This would greatly reduce the availability of such information to the children and probably reduce their consumption of such products with deleterious impact on their health (Neville, Thomas & Bauman 2005).
Another reason why TV advertisements targeting children should be banned is due to their capitalization on naivety of children. Young children may not be able to discern the difference between advertisements and normal programming, and become vulnerable to misleading information.
Children lack the ability to know that advertisements are business oriented strategies, and believe in the message fully without questioning its credibility. This has, therefore, left many children purchasing or forcing their parents to purchase commodities they may not necessarily require (India Parenting 2011).
Advertisements on TV have a negative effect on the lifestyles of children as they tend to affect their preferences. This, in turn, has a direct impact on family dynamics. The advertisement may make a child conflict with the parents on particular demands that they make. The product advertised could go against the parents’ code in reference to health or economic status, and the child ends up making life difficult for the parents who may not be in a position to meet these demands (Peace Pledge Union n.d.).
There is a likelihood of children’s’ self-image and societal values being affected by the advertisements that may encourage materialism. It is possible that too much advertising targeting children may create a false sense of dissatisfaction or entitlement among the young generation. Psychologists fear that children identities could be negatively influenced by consumerism tendencies developed by exposure to too much advertising or aggressive advertising targeting young children (Media Awareness Network 2010).
Banning of television advertisements aimed at children may not be the solution to changing their lifestyles. Those opposed to the ban argue that a ban would be futile since apart from being influenced by the advertisements, children would still be influenced by the actual programming content.
The children have other media outlets from which to acquire information from such as computers, magazines, newspapers and radio. The advertisements create the necessary revenue for television companies to air kids’ programs. Some of the programs are very educative and of a help for the children. Therefore, the advertisements should be aired nevertheless. Advertisement of products such as junk foods associated with poor health and obesity in Australia cannot be pointed as the only factor responsible for this trend.
Obesity prevalence is also contributed to the lifestyles the children adopt such as the lack of physical exercises. Parents have the responsibility of determining what is appropriate for their children. The foods eaten by children, clothes they wear and types of exercises they do are determined by parents and by the society as a whole. Thus, TV advertisements need not be demonized as being responsible for children change in lifestyles (Carter 2006).
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The Australian Broadcasting Authority has recently banned TV adverts that encourage unhealthy diets and inactive lifestyles, but the effect of this on the national obesity prevalence in children has continued to increase year after year. Furthermore, a link between fast foods advertised often on television, and obesity is not clear cut. European states such as Sweden that banned fast food adverts on TV have not recorded a linear drop in obesity rates (Lavelle 2004).
From the many studies that have linked lifestyle changes to advertising targeting children, it is evident that the influence of these advertisements should be controlled. Advertisements of junk foods and other fancy lifestyles in Australia targeting children should be banned to avoid further deterioration of a young generation currently crumpling with high rates of obesity and related complications.
It is similarly important that policies are put in place to control access of such products to children in shops and other outlets, as well as adopting educative approaches on the dangers of certain lifestyles such as labeling such products with warning signs.
Embracing healthy lifestyles such as physical exercises and health diets will greatly transform the children’s way of life. On the other hand, advertising is not necessarily bad especially when it aims at educating children. All advertisements targeting children will also be effective if the advertisers take responsibility and offer genuine tips on use of the advertised products instead of solely focusing on unnecessary manipulation of the young minds.
Carter, O. B. 2006, The Weighty Issue of Australian Television Food Advertising And Childhood Obesity, Health Promotion Journal of Australia, 17(1).
Coalition on Food Advertising to Children (CFAC), 2007, Children’s health or corporate wealth? The case for banning television food advertising to children. Web.
India Parenting, 2011, Effects of Advertisements on Children, India Parenting pvt. Ltd. Web.
Lavelle, P. 2004, Ban junk food ads from kids’ TV? The Pulse.
Media Awareness Network, 2010, Special Issues for Young Children. Web.
Neville, L., Thomas, M. & Bauman, A. 2005, Food advertising on Australian television: the extent of children’s exposure,Oxford Journals, 20 (2). Pp. 105-112.
Peace Pledge Union, Children and Advertising. Web.
Sharon, B. 1998, A Community View’, Caring for Children in the Media Age, Papers from a national conference, New College Institute for Values Research, Sydney. pp. 101-111.