It seems marketers can’t wait to get their hands on our kids, and now they’re even reaching into the cradle.
According to ADWEEK, the infant to 3-year-old crowd is the hottest new advertising demographic. Yes, they may be barely able to walk or talk but corporations see dollar signs in these young eyes, and they’ll do everything they can to hook them while they’re young.
And it seems to be working.
According to a Stanford University study, three to five-year-olds rated food wrapped in McDonald’s wrappers as tasting superior to the same exact food wrapped in plain packaging. And as ADWEEK points out, by the time a child is three, she can recognize an average of 100 brand logos.
So it’s no wonder advertisers have turned on the marketing blitz. From branded diapers and baby clothes to advertiser-driven children’s networks, our kids are being assaulted with ads. Seven states even allow advertisements on school buses.
But psychologist worry about the effect of rampant advertisement on children. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics:
“Research has shown that young children””younger than 8 years””are cognitively and psychologically defenseless against advertising. They do not understand the notion of intent to sell and frequently accept advertising claims at face value.”
Others point to marketing as the primary driver of youth consumerism, and some say the damage inflicted from advertising can be far more severe.
Writing for the American Psychological Association, Rebecca Clay points to psychologist Allen Kanner’s suggestion that advertising can cause the “narcissistic wounding” of kids. They become ingrained to believe they are inferior if they don’t have the latest advertised product.
So how do you protect your children?
Young people watch more than 40,000 ads per year on television. All of this television watching comes at the expense of playtime. It’s this playtime that psychologist insist is crucial to child development, so much so that the United Nations has proclaimed play as the right of every child worldwide.
Hide-in-seek, jacks, tag, Candy Land and and Go Fish have been replaced with the idiot box, and our children are suffering for it.
We all know that a DVD player, computer, or iPad is a convenient way to pacify a child for an hour or two. Marketers realize this too and have infiltrated these new digital platforms. Many children’s websites, for example, are laden with advertisements. Others lure children to bug their parents into unlocking new features on the site, all for a price of course.
Modern day corporations are branding machines. They use well loved children’s characters and plaster them over any and every kind of product, all in an effort to attract and influence young eyes. How else do you explain the Sponge Bob underwear and High School Musical lunch boxes?
It’s hard enough to resist the effects of advertising as an adult. We should shield our children from such influences as long as possible.
BMWK, how do you protect your children from the massive advertising assault?