It has been noted that the media and advertising industries have targeted the children in the process of selling products and services. Children are in the age range that is most influenced and are most desired for companies to sell products to. Minors are young and are therefore potential long-term consumers. Some of these advertising industries include companies selling credit cards, tobacco, alcohol, clothing and fast food. According to marketing expert James U. McNeal, PhD, author of "The Kids Market: Myths and Realities" (Paramount Market Publishing, 1999), children under 12 already spend a $28 billion a year. Teen-agers spend $100 billion. Children also influence another $249 billion spent by their parents. At the same time they are helping these companies prey and destroy little minds. According to him "Advertising is a massive, multi-million dollar project that's having an enormous impact on child development." "The sheer volume of advertising is growing rapidly and invading new areas of childhood, like our schools." A letter protesting psychologists' involvement in children's advertising was written by Commercial Alert, a Washington, D.C., advocacy organization. The letter calls marketing to children a violation of APA's mission of mitigating human suffering, improving the condition of both individuals and society, and helping the public develop informed judgments. It urged the APA to challenge what it calls an "abuse of psychological knowledge." • Issue a formal, public statement denouncing the use of psychological principles in marketing to children.
• Amend APA's Ethics Code to limit psychologists' use of their knowledge and skills to observe, study, mislead or exploit children for commercial purposes.
• Launch an ongoing campaign to investigate the use of psychological research in marketing to children, publish an evaluation of the ethics of such use, and promote strategies to protect children against commercial exploitation by psychologists and others using psychological principles.
The direct effect that consumerism has on children is still unknown. There are many studies about how to make effective ads but not a single study addressing ads' impact on children. Research shows that children under the age of eight are unable to critically comprehend televised advertising messages and are prone to accept advertiser messages as truthful, accurate and unbiased. This can lead to unhealthy eating habits as evidenced by today’s youth obesity epidemic. The most common products marketed to children are sugared cereals, candies, sweets, sodas and snack foods. Such advertising of unhealthy food products to...