Children’s minds develop at a very fast rate and they are much faster at grasping and remembering information than adults. And just like you & me, all the marketers and advertisers are also very well acquainted with this fact. Therefore, you can find more and more number of advertisements on the TV these days, which are targeting our young children for marketing their products. The advertisements that are broadcasted in between the children’s shows promote all kinds of products like toy sets, food items, energy boosters and apparel brands etc.
Although, these advertisements are very short lived and on an average, span for only 10-20 seconds on air, but their repetitive screening and specially their content & visuals have very deep impacts on the young thinkers. Their brains are easily influenced by what they see and hear. Also, children are now exposed to all the commercials, which the print media like newspapers, journals, etc. and social media are flooded with.
Some TV Commercials which are made with a genuine intention to make children aware about the brand, without giving them any wrong messages, may actually be helpful for them. For example, a Biscuit brand that associates itself with the word ‘Genius’, powered a campaign about letting children hone their creativity, thereby, grooming themselves into true geniuses. Because of such advertisements, children begin to recognize brands and they might sometimes even help their parents in making the decision about what to buy.
Also, the younger generation is quite better informed about the latest advancements in various fields including technology, trends etc. due to watching some smartly produced advertisements that make an easy and direct connect with the audience. For example, the one advertisement about the use of search engines and technology to reunite two old friends from India and Pakistan after decades of partition, taught a lot about internet searching & surfing to even the grownups, let alone children.
Moreover, advertisements which highlight oral hygiene, use of health supplements and other good routines provide a motivation to children. For instance, an advertisement about a young girl collecting coins to open her own savings bank account encouraged a lot of young children to do the same. The ads focusing on the importance of family & togetherness also leave a very positive impression on the children. For example, if a child sees another child of her age polishing shoes to help his Grandfather, she will also want to make her family & friends happy by helping them.
But the positives of such advertisements can certainly not outweigh the negatives of others. Children tend to become stubborn and annoy their parents to buy a particular product. They often judge an item according to its face value and recommend purchasing it whether it is useful or not and whether it is affordable for the family or not. In fact, after watching commercials and forming a habit of using certain brands, children also loose the real sense of living a life free from all the materialistic assets.
Also, the advertisements that follow the trait of comparison between two brands, two products or two people, foster in children a habit to do the same. Watching such commercials, they start comparing themselves with friends, peers and siblings. They may sometimes consider themselves inferior or superior to others. For instance, an ad which showed some children mocking a child because he was taking a little longer to wash hands, evidently because he was not using the brand being promoted, was not a very good thing to demonstrate to children.
To add to this, some advertisements also show children behaving in an inappropriate way like talking back or not giving respect to elders, which is definitely not something that we want our children to follow. For example, there is a TVC being shown these days quite often, in which an angry boy shouts at his father for not having used the waterproofing product while constructing the walls of his house. Additionally, there are ads about certain products which make use of appeals for grownups which, of course, is not appropriate for young children.
Further, some of the advertisers use visuals of adventure sports or stunts which are performed by professionals, example – an energy drink company often exhibits bike stunts in most of its ad campaigns. Although, these ads also show warnings about not to imitate the stunts, but children do not pay attention to these warnings and try to replicate these actions by themselves at home. This is unsafe and may even result in serious injuries to the children.
Not only this, the promotion of aerated drinks and junk foods through advertisements such as those of pizzas, burgers, chips, etc. builds a craving for these food items which has an adverse effect on their health. Being young, they fail to realize the harmful results of excessive intake of these foods and the real nutritional value of the home-made food. Many researches have been conducted in this area and they prove that after watching advertisements of junk food, children eat more of unhealthy snacks.
It is definitely not wrong to promote one’s product among children to boost its selling, but I feel there is an urgent need to understand the effect of certain messages on children. Advertisements must be made with care and caution about sending the right word, both at the production level and the approval level. Parents should also act firm, once in a while and must not always give in to the demands of their children. They should also teach their children not be influenced by the messages in the ads and to learn to value money. I believe, it is the prime responsibility of all of us to give our children a childhood that knows innocence, a world that is free from materialism and a life which is healthy and happy.