Marketing has principles, standards and values to be followed. Thus, the consumers must realize that even the marketers have rights to enjoy. For that reason, children in the past few years have been the main target by advertisers not because they earn but simply because they are in a position to convince their parents relentlessly to purchase for them. The child may end up convincing the parent to buy a certain item not because they have understood the advertising message but because they have seen the advert. This paper will expound on why marketing to children is a social problem and what needs to be done about it. This is important since it tends to influence the future generation on how they are going to make their future buying choices. The first section of my paper will start on discussing the reasons as to why marketing to children is a social problem.
Marketing to Children as a Social Problem
Marketing to children has contributed to child obesity. According to Sedivy & Carlson (2011), child obesity in the past has been regarded as a global epidemic where the health sector has referred it a big challenge to deal with. For instance, in America, the rate of obesity is increasing at an alarming rate which even calls for government interventions. From the current research done, there is clarification that approximately 20 percent of the youths are obese. The worst affected age bracket is from 2 to 5 where the rate of obesity has tripled within the past ten years. Every parent in the United States is being concerned of the same since it puts their children at a risk of getting cardiovascular diseases and diabetes in the future when they are adults.
High exposure to marketing to children interferes with the childrens developmental vulnerabilities and leads to family stress. Childrens developmental vulnerabilities are indeed true since until the children have reached the age of 8 years, there before they do not interpret the meaning of the messages being advertised (Kotler et al., 2012). On the other hand, small children below the age of 8 are unable to differentiate between program content and other forms of commercials. This later affects their lives since they even fail to differentiate product placement as a form of advertising. What marketers are concerned about is taking advantage of the children inability to reason and this makes them to in turn rebel from the existing authority figures which act as the main selling points for various children's products. Family stress increase is another effect of marketing to children. According to Turow (2012), parents nowadays in the United States are having a hard time to cope with the demands of their children. Every time the child sees something being advertised on the TV, the child is on toes demanding for it. This has posed a challenge to the parents of not sure of how to deal with the problem. Having children rights in the United States, failure to provide what the children want may lead the parent to stand behind bars. Thus, many parents are stressed up simply because of the control that the adverts have gained over their children.
Marketing to children interferes with the kid's gender identity and leads to sexualized stereotypes. Sexualized stereotypes usually result from the many flooded adverts coming on their way. A good example of an advert that has interfered with the gender identity is the 40, 000 Disney princess. According to Barbaro (2016), Disney Princess advert has completely misled many small girls who always try to imitate and become like the Disney princess. For those who cannot compete with others at the end develop sexualized stereotypes and are unable to fit well in the society. Many of them tend to display irresponsible behaviors that the society does not tolerate in any way. If such sexual stereotypes are not dealt with at early stages, a good number of small girls develop the feeling of being excommunicated and displaced in their societies.
Youth violence has also been aroused and fuelled by marketing to children and children become brand conscious (Sedivy & Carlson, 2011). Since from the time children were young they have been watching many adverts and some of the adverts tend to erode good morals. Lack of good morals in turn in their later lives contributes to disagreements between the youths and other peers. In the process of disagreement, violence can result as one of them tries to prove a point to the other. Such youth violence has resulted in mass killings as a result of not reasoning out properly. All the children who have experienced marketing to them turn out to be brand conscious (Kotler et al., 2012). Being brand conscious at this case means that what the children are keen on is mastering different brands in the market. This behavior is later transferred to schools where the children cannot fully concentrate on their studies. An educator asks questions and what the child can answer is only the different brands the child is aware of. On the other hand, being brand conscious has resulted to the same children being at the forefront proposing what they want without considering the side effects of such brands.
The rate of creativity in children is diminishing every day. Reduction in creativity has been fuelled by marketing to children among others issues. According to Barbaro (2016), nowadays children cannot think or play creatively since they are going to utilize the tactics and the creativity that has been used in the adverts in general. Lack of creativity has also, in turn, lead to poor performance in mostly 6th and 7th grade. Children are finding it hard to solve simple problems simply because all their creativity has being carried away by the various adverts on TV. Currently, in the United States, the number of non-green children is increasing every day. This is very critical since such children cannot do simple things by themselves such as taking shorter baths and turning lights off. This child has ended up being materialistic and always report a high level of anxiety, feel less secure and end up being unhappy most of the times.
What Must Be Done About It?
Turning off the TV is not a good idea to fight marketing to children. However, in order for parents to solve this, they should be role models to their children and learn to make changes. Parents should at first stop being consumer driven. There is no way a parent can expect the child not to associate with commercialism and yet themselves are actively indulged in it. For us to have green children in the future, parents have to go a step ahead in shunning away from their consumer issues (Turow, 2012). Learning to make changes can also help to eliminate the social problems brought about by marketing to children. One of the changes the parents can introduce is by living conscious lives. Conscious lives mean that the parents are ever aware of the most important things in life and the least important ones. The second change to make is to introduce a wise buying culture. According to Sedivy & Carlson (2011), no matter how the child pleads a parent relentlessly to purchase something inconsiderable, the parent should establish a firm purchase stand. Thirdly, the parents should be at the forefront to deal and fight commercialism with every effort through both words and actions.
According to Kotler et al. (2012), the government should also make firm decisions that no advert is supposed to run during any program for minors and educate parents, teachers and policy makers. This will reduce any likelihood of children being influenced by the adverts. If any advert is to be run during programs, then the program must be the one that caters for children above the age of 12 years. The laws need to be strict that such adverts should appear after 21 pm when all the minors are asleep. As a result, children will be protected from any misleading advert that leads to several social problems discussed in the paper. Educating teachers, parents and policy makers about the effects of marketing to children can also help. Making teachers, parents and policy makers be informed of the consequences such as a change in behavior and the aspect of sexual stereotypes can help in putting inappropriate strategies to curb the menace (Barbaro, 2016). Children can be diverted to other meaningful activities rather than those being advertised every day. The same strategies may help on how to reduce exposure to marketing to children as much as possible hence reducing the commercial culture.
In summation, marketing to children is a social problem and there are a number of things that need to be done about it. Some of the social problems in it include the development of sexual stereotypes, reduce of creativity hence poor performance in school, family stress, upcoming of non-green children, youth violence, mental development, and child obesity. However, this is not the end of the tunnel since the government can introduce strict laws to curb adverts that are run during programs meant for children. In addition, parents need to be educated on how they can fight marketing to children through both words and actions. Consequently, learning to make changes can also help to eliminate the social problems brought about by marketing to children. Marketing to children if fought from all corners by parents, policy makers and the government may become a thing of the past. This will help in coming up with green children who will adopt with the dynamic changes taking place globally.
Barbaro, A. (2016). Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood. The Media Education Foundation. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ct1jn3OfFSU on 19th July 2017.
Kotler, P., Hessekiel, D., & Lee, N. (2012). Good works!: Marketing and corporate initiatives that build a better world... and the bottom line. John Wiley & Sons.
Sedivy, J., & Carlson, G. (2011). Sold on language: how advertisers talk to you and what this says about you. John Wiley & Sons.
Turow, J. (2012). The daily you: How the new advertising industry is defining your identity and your worth. Yale University Press.
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