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The Exploitation Of Children In Television Advertisements

4067 words - 16 pages

Across America in the homes of the rich, the not-so-rich, and in poverty-strickenhomes and tenements, as well as in schools and businesses, sits advertisers' mass marketingtool, the television, usurping freedoms from children and their parents and changingAmerican culture. Virtually an entire nation has surrendered itself wholesale to a mediumfor selling. Advertisers, within the constraints of the law, use their thirty-secondcommercials to target America's youth to be the decision-makers, convincing their parentsto buy the advertised toys, foods, drinks, clothes, and other products. Inherent in thistargeting, especially of the very young, are the advertisers; fostering the youth's loyalty tobrands, creating among the children a loss of individuality and self-sufficiency, denyingthem the ability to explore and create but instead often encouraging poor health habits. Thechildren demanding advertiser's products are influencing economic hardships in manyfamilies today. These children, targeted by advertisers, are so vulnerable to trickery, are somentally and emotionally unable to understand reality because they lack the cognitivereasoning skills needed to be skeptical of advertisements. Children spend thousands ofhours captivated by various advertising tactics and do not understand their subtleties.Though advertisers in America's free enterprise system are regulated because of societalpressures, they also are protected in their rights under freedom of expression to unfairlytarget America's youth in order to sell to their parents, regardless of the very young'sinability to recognize the art of persuasion.In the free enterprise system, the advertiser's role is to persuade consumers to buytheir products/services. They are given a product/service and are required to use their bestcreative 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 targetaudience, the advertising industry is charged with several ethical breeches, which focus on alack of societal responsibility (Treise 59). Child Advocacy groups and concerned parents,among others, question the ethicality of advertising claims and appeals that are directedtowards vulnerable groups in particular, children (Bush 31).The fundamental criticism is that children are an unfair market. The Federal TradeCommission (FTC) regulates the advertising industry to ensure consumers' protectionfrom false or misleading information. The question many assert is should the governmentbe allowed to monitor what is legitimate simply because some do not approve (Hernandez34). This question requires value judgments that can only be answered through constructingpublic policy (Kunkel 58). Most people in society recognize that television advertisingdirected towards children is excessive, manipulative and takes unfair advantage of children(Kunkel 60).In a recent survey from the researcher, it was documented that 80% of...

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