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The Exploitation Of Children In Television Advertising

4405 words - 18 pages

The Exploitation Of Children In Television Advertisements

Across America in homes, schools, and businesses, sits advertisers' mass marketing tool, the television, usurping freedoms from children and their parents and changing American culture. Virtually an entire nation has surrendered itself wholesale to a medium for selling. Advertisers, within the constraints of the law, use their thirty-second commercials to target America's youth to be the decision-makers, convincing their parents to buy the advertised toys, foods, drinks, clothes, and other products. Inherent in this targeting, especially of the very young, are the advertisers; fostering the youth's loyalty to brands, creating among the children a loss of individuality and self-sufficiency, denying them the ability to explore and create but instead often encouraging poor health habits. The children demanding advertiser's products are influencing economic hardships in many families today. These children, targeted by advertisers, are so vulnerable to trickery, are so mentally and emotionally unable to understand reality because they lack the cognitive reasoning skills needed to be skeptical of advertisements. Children spend thousands of hours captivated by various advertising tactics and do not understand their subtleties.

Though advertisers in America's free enterprise system are regulated because of societal
pressures, they also are protected in their rights under freedom of expression to unfairly target America's youth in order to sell to their parents, regardless of the very young's inability to recognize the art of persuasion.
In the free enterprise system, the advertiser's role is to persuade consumers to buy
their products/services. They are given a product/service and are required to use their best creative effort to make this product desirable to the intended audience (Krugman 37).
Because of this calculated and what many deem as manipulative way of enticing the target
audience, the advertising industry is charged with several ethical breeches, which focus on a lack of societal responsibility (Treise 59). Child Advocacy groups and concerned parents, among others, question the ethicality of advertising claims and appeals that are directed towards vulnerable groups in particular, children (Bush 31).

The fundamental criticism is that children are an unfair market. The Federal Trade
Commission (FTC) regulates the advertising industry to ensure consumers' protection
from false or misleading information. The question many assert is should the government
be allowed to monitor what is legitimate simply because some do not approve (Hernandez
34). This question requires value judgments that can only be answered through constructing
public policy (Kunkel 58). Most people in society recognize that television advertising
directed towards children is excessive, manipulative and takes unfair advantage of children
(Kunkel 60).
In a recent survey from the...

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