Tuesday, May 19, 2009

"...after these messages."

Effect of TV Commercials on Children
The most dangerous words your charges will ever hear broad-casted on the television are, "We will return after these messages." The "messages" are not benign sources of information intended to benefit your life or the life of your charges. Advertisements, marketing companies, and sales pitches take up one-fifth of most television shows and their sole purpose to to make money for businesses and television networks.

Commercials are often brilliantly produced telling a complete story in as little as 10 to 30 seconds. Sometimes the commercials are more entertaining than the program being watched. Advertisements are the life-blood of the media. Broadcasters exist for the purpose of making money; the commercials are the way they make money. The programs are timed to be made so ads can be sold, not the other way around.

Commercials are misleading by glorifying and exaggerating products that are not good for children. Children tend to gain weight as they sit on the sofa watching promotions of starchy and greasy foods that are unhealthy for them. Many commercials disrespect women by providing sexual and unrealistic images of women. These images attribute to low self esteem in girls and may influence disorders such as anorexia.

For example, some children may derive some entertainment from the cartoon "Sponge Bob Squarepants", but cannot get any redeeming value from a Burger King ad displaying dancing sex symbols with square tushies. Children are getting confusing and nonsensical messages from the commercials and develop a curiosity for unhealthy and unneeded foods and products. No one benefits from advertisements. They are a lose-lose proposition.

Nannies and au pairs are as susceptible to marketing as any other consumer. Tempted by sales to buy stuff that does not improve their quality of life in any way. Forget the "money saving" marketing tricks. The only real way to save money is not to spend it.

Ignore the beauty product advertisements. Shopping and buying cannot validate your existence. Stuff get in the way of what makes you special.

Activity to Do with Children:
Have the children use a chart to count how many commercials they view during a television show. How many commercials do they watch every day? Explain that many advertisements exaggerate products to make them seem much better then they actually are. Was there a time when the kids bought an item that looked really good on television and didn’t seem so great once they got it home? Which commercials are really making toys, foods, movies, and stores seem much better then they really are? List products that are exaggerated and which are advertised honestly. Also count the number of public service announcements. Look through magazines and newspapers to find advertisements that exaggerate products too.

Do you think television commercials effect children? How have television advertisements effected those under your care?

4 comments:

Janice StClair said...

This is an issue that I've been educating myself on for the past few years. One of my now-11yo nannykids could, for instance, recognize the logo for Dunkin Donuts out of context before she could make complete sentences. And in a low-tv-use household!

Advertising isn't just on TV and billboards, anymore. It's on our clothes, food, health and beauty aids, and on the school busses and more. Developmental psychologists working for marketing companies have even identified "the drool spot": babies watch shiny things that move, and until they develop neck strength to hold up their heads, will watch their drool fall and land on their shirt. The marketers have calculated where the drool will land, and that's where they put their logo (or corporate character such as Tigger), so the baby will stare at it and imprint on it.

The Media Education Foundation has just released a new film called Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood. The film, which features CCFC staff and Steering Committee members, takes a powerful look at how corporations relentlessly target children and the impact of that marketing. 
The film is a great organizing tool - the perfect way to raise awareness about the commercialization of childhood, connect with local parents and activists, and support the work of CCFC. That's why CCFC members all over the country are hosting screenings of Consuming Kids in their communities. To see if there's a screening near you, please visit http://consumingkids.bravenewtheaters.com/screenings

If you just can't make it to a screening, I recommend the very readable book "Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood" by Susan Linn

Janice StClair said...

FOrgot to clarify: CCFC is "Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood". Being on the mailing list means getting notice when a particularly harmful ad or product has been developed for children, with a link for signing an email to the corporation asking that it be discontinued. Lots of inappropriate ads and products have been discontinued as a result of these email campaigns. The SpongeBob Burger King ad is a current target.

To sign up, go to http://www.commercialexploitation.org/ and put in your email address.

tobagonanny said...

We do not watch tv all week when I am workinb (45 hours per week). The parents only allow their kids to watch a few movies and Yankees games on weekends. Yet, the kids sing commercials all the time!!! It is crazy the ifulence these short songs have on children!

After reading Janice's comments I found this press release:

http://www.commercialexploitation.org/pressreleases/didnickapprove.html

This Sponge Bob Burger King ad is so controversial right now. Cable news programs keep arguing about it.

I personally thought it was funny but now I understand why many are upset by it.

Seriously, kids do not need to see this stuff. It is obvious the ad is made for parents, how would kids relate to that unless they are watching MTV and please tell me kids under 13 yrs aren't watching MTV!

In college we learned so much about the negative influence of media on images of women. The Burger King ad has women dancing too sexually to be appropriate for kids I realize now.

Anonymous said...

Since commercials are a part of every day life the activity is very helpful thanks!!
Marie, Miami