It is estimated that the average child in India watches 3 to 4 hours of television every day. Most of this viewing is done without supervision by an adult. During this time, children watch dozens of advertisements.
While we can complain about advertisements and their inappropriateness for children, it is a reality today. Manufacturers know very well that while children do not make a purchasing decision, they have enormous influence on their parents' decisions. Marketers also know that children are impressionable. In addition, children often win the argument to buy something for themselves by pestering us. We all know this first hand!!
In 2007, a study reported that children who were 3 to 5 years, when presented with the same food in McDonald's packaging and in unmarked packaging, thought the former was tastier. One of foods presented to them in the study was carrots which McDonald's does not even sell. Even the carrots in McDonald's packaging were thought to be tastier than regular carrots1!!!
So what can parents do? We cannot deny reality. Advertising bombards at us and our children everywhere. Parents must try to educate children about the advantages and disadvantages of advertising. Ordering children not to watch advertisements seldom works.
A process by which the child himself learns about advertising will be better for both parent and child. Here are some techniques that can be used.
There are some excellent programs available on DVD, and they are free of advertising. Check out our reviews section for various movies and shows that the Parentree community likes. Don't forget to tell the community what you like also.
Advertisers often use exaggerated situations to show off their products. These can be turned to your benefit. Have a discussion with your child on what was real and what was exaggerated. Let them think about it. Don't tell them.
You will be surprised how smart children are when asked this. Most of them will immediately realize that the advertisement was not realistic. In this case also, take a real example when discussing this. You can even have them compare a product as shown in an advertisement with what it looks in real life.
With good parental guidance and open discussion, children can be educated about what is good and bad about advertisements and it will help them make better decisions as they grow up.
1. Thomas N. Robinson; Dina L. G. Borzekowski; Donna M. Matheson; Helena C. Kraemer "Effects of Fast Food Branding on Young Children's Taste Preferences" Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2007;161(8):792-797
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