Advertising's Impact on Kids
“Mom, you should get X brand of dishwashing detergent. It works five times better than other brands.”
Do you ever have those types of conversations at your house? When my kids were small, they knew every ad on all the kids’ television channels. They could recite them verbatim and sing the jingles. It didn’t seem to matter whether the commercial was touting toys or...dishwasher detergent. They had them all memorized. When they began watching television shows on non-children-oriented channels, I started to get questions about what depression and erectile dysfunction were. Why is it that kids pay attention to ads, often above paying attention to there parents?
1) Small children often don’t understand what a commercial is.
While it’s clear to adults that commercials are paid for by companies to flog a product, young kids frequently mistake them for part of the show they’re watching. They don’t understand the difference between programming and paid programming. This gives ads credibility with kids that ads often don’t deserve. Kids think that, if it’s on television, it must be true.
2) Ads are relentless.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, kids are exposed to over 40,000 advertisements on television alone. And that’s just ad spots. Now, companies are paying to have product placement in the shows themselves, so now kids see their favorite characters and actors favoring one brand over another which subtlety affects their brand perceptions. Ads are also becoming more common on the internet, on electronic reading devices, in schools, and even in church. Kids are literally bombarded with sales pitches from the time they wake up in the morning until the time they go to bed. No wonder they become walking, talking billboards as soon as they’re able to talk.
3) Ads sell lifestyle.
Advertisers have become very adept at not only selling a product or service, but selling a better life. This happens in ads aimed at both kids and adults. Buy X brand of disinfectant spray and your family will be relaxed and happy. Buy Y brand of jeans and you’ll have more friends and school and be more popular. Adults have a difficult enough time fighting off these embedded perceptions. Kids don’t stand a chance. If they’re led to believe that having an mp3 player makes them cool, it’s hard for parents to break that perception.
So, what’s the answer? Never allowing your kids to watch television, listen to the radio, pick up a magazine, or go online? Of course not- in fact, that only makes them less ad-savvy. The more you teach your kids to be wise, if not outright cynical, consumers of advertising, the better they will be able to filter out the noise in the future.
For more tips and information on teaching your kids money smarts, join me on my March book blog tour here: http://www.piggybanks2paychecks.com/p/piggy-banks-to-paychecks-2012-blog-tour.html