Analyzing Jean Kilbourne’s approach, I’ve come to believe that the intensive flow of advertising is one of the dominating factors of upbringing young generation. TV advertising strongly influences a child’s psyche playing on children’s emotions. The main function of TV advertising is to prepare children for their main occupation in life ”“ “to be qualified consumers.” Due to age specificity of children’s development, psychological infection (the result of exposure on the personality’s emotional sphere), imitation, and infusion have the greatest impact. Being very sensitive creatures, because of advertising overdose children can become dependent on things and money.
Thus, a consumer is educated, which under certain circumstances can quickly become addictive to drugs, alcohol and nicotine.
Moreover, in terms of psychological protection, children because of their age difference are not able to resist the impact of TV advertising, using their own attitudes and views. No wonder, that children and teenagers are the “honey pie” for many producers and advertisers. Even if a child doesn’t make decision, it can convince the parents what is necessary to buy. And about 50% of the requests are fulfilled. Because of this, often there are conflicts in families: a child requests and even demands what he saw in advertising, but adults cannot or don’t want to fulfill his wish. The images of older teenagers influence younger kids. They long to become adults quicker, and try to be like the teens from the commercials, using the same clothes, food or personal hygiene, because it is “cool”.
Positive reaction in older children and teenagers is evoked by idols – famous footballers, actors or musicians. From advertising children learn many new things, start to orientate better in the vast world of goods, understand their functions, advantages and disadvantages.
Babies often better than Mom and Dad know the range of products offered, easily differ one brand from another, they are always informed about new products. A child is included into adult life, starts to understand what mean price, earning, discount, quality. Advertising helps to be fashionable. If a child knows nothing about the products shown on TV, he won’t be able to participate in many children’s conversations and games.
Sometimes products in advertising of which the image of teenagers is used are not very useful. It is sometimes difficult for parents to prove this to a child, so they have to buy what he wants. Often, advertising makes a child more aggressive and irritable. First, many commercials are repeated too often interrupting interesting movies or cartoons. Secondly, such products as mountain bikes, travelling, and cars are not available to a child. Since the desire and opportunity do not match, there is a feeling of frustration and often anger at parents who cannot buy an expensive toy. Third, advertising can itself be very aggressive.
At the moment girls and boys are indirect purchasers, i.e. they make choices with the help of parents. But in a few years they will become full buyers, with their formed preferences and tastes. That’s why goods producers are interested in instilling love for their brand since young age. It is up to the advertising what teenagers will drink – juice, soda, yoghurt or beer; whether it will be fashionable to chew gum in the street or eat crisps and crackers. Teens want to differ from adults and even from their coevals, so their attention is attracted by the unusual ads. A bright personality, daring heroes and extreme sports can be attractive to young people, but often disliked by adults. Videos often involve children characters of 6-12 because at this age a child already has his own money, can make decisions on small purchases, and loves to participate in various promotions.
The biggest interest in children and teenagers is evoked by TV advertising, which is bright and dynamic. Commercials with humor and memorable storyline, interesting music or song are well perceived. Kids really like their favorite cartoon characters. Parents and grandparents buying sweets for the child are more often oriented on the famous brands. Children ask to buy the product they know, including the one from TV commercials.
Most parents feel a lot of worries about how they should respond to such demands. Yielding to their children and buying them sweets of questionable nutritional value, a bright but expensive and useless toy or computer game that promotes violence, they feel guilty, because they believe all this has no use for children. But refusing to be led by their beloved child, parents may feel even worse. What if a child decides that his parents don’t love him? What if he will get depressed, develop inferiority complex because he or she doesn’t have things “other normal boys and girls have”?
Advertising actively promotes the formation of such complexes. Thus, the head of an American advertising agency, states that the best advertising is the one, which makes a person not using the advertised thing feel like a loser. The fact that the promises of popularity and success, which all manufacturers state in advertising is absolutely false, is well known to most adults. But children and teenagers are very sensitive to this. If you just try to persuade them to buy something, they will resist with all the forces. But if you say that if they don’t buy this thing, no one will make friends with them, you will immediately get their attention.
Psychologists working in advertising believe that the moral aspect of the problem is greatly exaggerated. They admit that advertising is often misleading. Therefore, children from an early age should learn to distinguish advertising from real life. An important element of growing up is to learn who and what to trust. And this should be learned in family and school, not from advertising. In addition, modern advertising is a part of the socialization of the child, from an early age teaches him to orientate in the adult world of commodity-money relations.
Therefore, according to these psychologists, massive advertising brainwashing, beginning today almost from the first days of life is good.
The second group of psychologists sharply criticizes this approach. Today, advertisers are trying as quickly as possible to start shaping “material” settings, which may lead to the fact that children having grown up will assess their significance basing on what they possess, rather than on their personal qualities. This will lead to many psychological complexes in the future adult life. Self-identification will be possible only through making a list of brands consumed, promoted by massive advertising. Failure to possess the “full list” (which is impossible) will lead to a total inferiority complex. In addition, advertising is often cultivates violence and teaches children to consume harmful goods (typical example is fast-food).
Also, many experts believe that the total information and advertising pressing hinders the development of children’s mental abilities. Their consciousness becomes the storage of clichÃ©s and stereotypes, which are reproduced in the same form they were obtained from the mass media. The process of critical assessment of information is absent. Thus, the researchers found that even three hours spent on watching TV full of advertising, significantly reduce man’s amount of memory and slow down the speed of thought.
However, in my opinion, one should not think that children are too naive and careless. They quickly adapt to new conditions of life and are able to evaluate the advertised product. Boys and girls less actively respond to persuasion than adults. It turns out that children are often more difficult to deceive than their parents.
The older the child, the more critically it starts to treat advertising. Teens and most parents do not like ads. Almost the half of parents believes that advertising negatively affects children. The child does not understand that advertising harms it because it cannot control this process. Moreover, very often advertising presents examples of how not to behave. It is better to learn on someone else’s mistakes, follies and blunders (including TV characters) than on one’s own ones.
I would like to advise all advertisers to use extremely carefully little children in their commercials, and legislators to supplement and clarify the law on advertising, concerning the protection of children in the production, allocation and distribution of advertising, keeping in mind that children are our future.