Marketing to Children (Overview)

Marketing to Children Overview

One commercial for a violent movie, a few sexual innuendos to get them to buy jeans, and a couple of ads urging them to eat junk food are not going to harm kids.  But today, as never before, the lives of children are saturated with commercial marketing.

A generation ago, parents concerned about commercialism worried mainly about television.  Today, children are also targeted through DVDs, video games, the Internet, MP3 players, and cell phones.  In a world of marketing without borders, brand licensing and product placement prevail, marketing in schools escalates, babies are targeted, and friendships are exploited as companies increasingly rely on children to do their marketing for them.

Advertising sells children on more than products and brands.  It also promotes values and behaviors.  Childhood obesity, eating disorders, youth violence, sexualization, the erosion of children’s creative play, materialistic values, and family stress are all linked to the commercialization of childhood.

As a society we hold parents as responsible for the health, safety and wellbeing of their children.  Yet we have not held corporations accountable for spending billions of dollars on advertising that undermines their efforts.  That is changing.  There is a growing movement to reclaim childhood from corporate marketers.

Did you know?

  • Companies spend about $17 billion annually marketing to children, a staggering increase from the $100 million spent in 1983.
  • Until the age of about 8 children do not understand advertising’s persuasive intent and very young children can’t distinguish between commercials and program content.
  • Children ages 2-11 see more than 25,000 advertisements a year on TV alone.

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