This essay Children And Television Advertising Essays, Book Reports, Term Papers has a total of 7278 words and 40 pages.
Children and Television Advertising
with Television Advertising
The following research has sought to understand the influence of television on children over the past twenty years using a variety of social models, from public policy and industry self-regulation, to how children receive and process media messages and the parental responsibility in monitoring what is acceptable for children to view.
As a baseline, our research used a model of children interacting with television. We expounded on this model in an effort to seek current data and information that affects children today. Our group divided this model into the following categories:
· Decision to View Television
·Public Policy Makers
·Television Advertising Message
·Receiving and Processing Message
After analyzing this model, we conducted our own research to study current trends and determine whether childrens’ behavior has changed significantly in the past 20 years.
Our empirical research includes studies in contemporary advertising techniques, changes in children’s television viewing preferences, and the relationship to childhood development. Each category explains a different element of the process of how children interpret and act upon the medias influence.
The Decision to View Television and Parental Influence
Today, children in the United States watch an average of 3 to 5 hours of television every day, and up to an average of 24 hours of television a week. Did you know that on average, children will see 576 or more commercials each week? Children’s programming devotes up to 12 hours to advertising a week.
Research has demonstrated that the effect of television viewing on children leads to a number of possible problems. Television affects social and emotional behavior, creativity and language skills, and school achievement. There is an organization out there in support of children and parents who are concerned with the way television is being viewed. The name of this organization is CARU, Children’s Advertising Review Unit, and it is an industry supported self-regulatory system of the children’s advertising industry. “CARU works with the industry to ensure that advertising directed to kids is truthful, and above all fair.” (Better Business Bureau) The purpose of CARU is to maintain a balance between controlling the message children receive from advertising, and promoting the important information to children through advertising. Another organization working towards controlling advertising towards children is the “Children’s Television Act of 1990 who limited advertising on children’s programs to 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays.” (famailyeducation.com) Food advertising makes up the largest category of advertisements directed towards children. Breakfast cereals and fast food restaurants account for over half of all food advertisements aimed at children. In the United States less than one percent of advertisements were for healthier foods such as fruit and vegetables.
There are three advertising methods, which are the most popular with advertisers. The first form of advertising is called premiums and has been around since Dick Tracy decoder rings and Little Orphan Annie stickers, over 50 years. The problem with this form of advertising is that children have difficulty telling the difference between the actual product and the premium, or in other words, the prize. The second popular form of advertising to children is through sweepstakes. Children find this very exciting, and in turn this raises children’s expectations of their chances of winning a prize. Most young children have trouble realizing that not every child wins and so sweepstakes usually require some form of parent involvement. The last form of advertisements that is geared toward children is what we call “Kids Clubs”. For an advertiser to use the word “club” a few requirements need to be met. Interactivity needs to be met which means that a child should perform some kind of an action to join the club, and in return receives a reward, membership to the club. Also continuity needs to be performed, this is an ongoing relationship between the club members either through a newsletter or some other interaction with the members.
Parents can guide their children’s television viewing in many ways. First, parents should set limits to the amount of TV a child should watch in a given day. Because television watching is often habit, 1 to 2 hours a day should be enough. An easy way to accomplish this would be to set a few basic rules, such as no television during meals, or before completing homework. Second, help plan a child’s television viewing with the child. Sit down with a newspaper listing of shows and plan the television schedule for the week. Third, to know what a child is watching on the television means that a parent needs to participate. By watching television with a child and then talking about what was watched will give the parent greater control of what kinds of programs are watched in the home. Monitoring the programs that a child watches is the fourth rule for parents. Encourage children to watch programs about characters that cooperate and care for each other. The fifth rule is to analyze commercials. “Children need help to critically evaluate the validity of the many products advertised on television.” (accesseric.org) The last rule is to express your views. Call your local television station if you are not happy with what is being shown. Stations, networks, and sponsors are all concerned about the effects of television viewing on children, and are willing to listen to parents concerns.
Public Policy and Consumer Protectionism
Children’s advertising is mainly governed by CARU, the Children’s Advertising Review Board, which is part of the Better Business Bureau. The board reviews advertising that is directed towards children in all forms of media and seek change through voluntary and self-regulating cooperation of advertisers. CARU’s seeks to find misleading, inaccurate or inconsistent advertising under the Self Regulatory Guidelines for Children’s Advertising.
The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus was established in 1974 by the National Advertising Review Council (NARC) to promote responsible children’s advertising and to respond to public concerns. Its Board of Directors comprises key executives from the CBBB, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). The NARC Board sets policy for CARU’s self-regulatory program, which is administered by the CBBB and is funded directly by members of the children’s advertising industry.
CARU’s Self-Regulatory Guidelines are subjective, going beyond the issues of truthfulness and accuracy to take into account the uniquely impressionable and vulnerability of the child audience. They recognize that the special nature and needs of children require particular care and dedication on the part of advertisers. In 1998, CARU monitored more than 11,700 television commercials, often with the assistance of local BBBs, and reviewed advertisements in print and on the internet. (bbbonline.org)
To keep the CARU guidelines relevant, the Council’s Children’s Advertising Review Unit and its Business and Academic Advisory Committees regularly review CARU’s Self-Regulatory Guidelines to insure that they remain current in the rapidly evolving children’s market. CARU’s board consists of academic and business leaders and experts in education, communication and child development. In addition, prominent business and industry leaders advise on general issues and guideline revisions.
CARU provides a general advisory service for advertisers and agencies and also is a source of informational material for children, parents and educators. CARU encourages advertisers to develop and promote educational messages to children consistent with the Children’s Television Act of 1990. In addition, CARU publishes a wealth of materials made available to those seeking to be more informed.
There are six basic principles that underlie CARU’s Guidelines for Advertising, directed at children under age 12. They are intended to be illustrative rather than limiting and are:
1. Advertisers should always take into account the level of knowledge, sophistication and maturity of the audience to which their message is primarily directed. Younger children have a limited capacity for evaluating the credibility of information they receive. They also may lack the ability to understand the nature of the information they provide. Advertisers, therefore, have a special responsibility to protect children from their own susceptibilities.
2. Realizing that children are imaginative and that make-believe play constitutes an important part of the growing up process, advertisers should exercise care not to exploit unfairly the imaginative quality of children. Advertising should not stimulate unreasonable expectations of product quality or performance either directly or indirectly.
3. Recognizing that advertising may play an important part in educating the child, advertisers should communicate information in a truthful and accurate manner and in language understandable to young children with full recognition that the child may learn practices from advertising which can affect his or her health and well-being.
4. Advertisers are urged to capitalize on the potential of advertising to influence behavior by developing advertising that, wherever possible, addresses itself to positive and beneficial social behavior, such as friendship, kindness, honesty, justice, generosity and respect for others.
5. Care should be taken to incorporate minority and other groups in advertisements in order to present positive and pro-social roles and role models wherever possible. Social stereotyping and appeals to prejudice should be avoided.
6. Although many influences affect a child’s personal and social development, it remains the prime responsibility of the parents to provide guidance for children. Advertisers should contribute to this parent-child relationship in a constructive manner.
Because children are still developing their minds and knowledge and they are limited in their experiences and skills required to evaluate advertising and thus to make purchasing decisions, CARU assists advertisers in general advisory service and recommendations as well as pre-approving advertisements that meet their guidelines. Care is advocated in regards to product presentations and claims, sales pressure, disclosures and disclaimers, comparative claims, endorsements and promotions by program characters, premiums and sweepstakes and safety.
Self-regulation is a ruling by the National Association of Broadcasters that lessens the need for advertising agencies to comply with statutory regulations and other issues dealing with state and federal laws. Large organizations such as the Federal Trade Commission, and the Federal Communications Commission exercise certain power to control and regulate some content, which is broadcast over television media. The self-regulation ruling protects broadcasters from the controls and constraints of the FTC and FCC guidelines.
The Federal Trade Commission was established in 1914 as an independent U.S. agency. The purpose is to keep business competition free and fair, prevent the distribution of false and/ or deceptive advertising, and to enforce antitrust laws. The FTC defines deceptive advertising as a misrepresentation, omission or practice that is likely to mislead. The FTC also regulates the labeling and packaging of commodities, and gathers information concerning a companies business decisions. All of this information is made available to the public. The FTC may require corporations to submit information about their business practices if they feel there is evidence of unlawful activity. In addition, the FTC is empowered to issue cease and desist orders to take violators to court.
The Federal Communications Commission was created in 1934. The FCC exercises the power of licensing and license renewal for radio and television stations. It has the power to revoke or issue fines to a broadcast licensee for violating its regulations. These measures can be invoked when a licensee has aired obscene or indecent language, revealed confidential lottery information, or obtained money under false pretenses. The FCC is not allowed to censor material or enforce regulations that interfere with freedom of expression. The subject matter of the programming is up to the discretion of the individual broadcast station.
Because the FTC and FCC guidelines are broad and subject to interpretation, it is difficult to define what is considered obscene, what is age appropriate for children to view, and what subject matter is acceptable. The FCC does have some provisions for licensees concerning children’s television programming. Every commercial and non-commercial educational television licensee is obligated to foster the educational and informational needs of children 16 years and under. The programs must serve a specific purpose and must be aired regularly between 7:00 am and 10:00 pm, and must be at least 30 minutes long. Licensees must identify programs specifically designed to educate and inform children at the beginning of the program, and it must classify such programs to publishers of program guides. In addition, television programs aimed at children 12 and under cannot advertise commercials for more that 10.5 minutes an hour on weekends and 12 minutes on weekdays.
Television is one of the most encompassing and persuasive forms of media available to children today. The subject of children’s programming is highly controversial and at the forefront of American politics today. It is important for advertisers and advertising agencies to have a certain amount of autonomy and self-regulation. It is in the publics’ interest for advertisers to protect themselves through self-regulation from the restrictions and costly lawsuits that can deny freedom of speech and expression.
Receiving and Processing Messages
Obviously, a majority of the television advertising to children is in the product category of toys and food. The ads attempt to provoke children to request that their parents purchase the advertised brand. In order to stimulate this type of reaction, advertisers must appeal to certain needs. The table below shows the results of a 1985 study of the needs appealed to in television ads during children’s programming.
Needs Appealed to in Television Advertising during
Children's Programming, November 1985
Need Need (%)
Sentience (to seek sensuous gratification) 64
Play (to relax or have fun) 52
Affiliation (to have cooperative relationships with others) 33
Nurturance (to protect and care for others) 21
Achievement (to accomplish something difficult) 14
Harm avoidance (to avoid physical pain or harm) 9
Aggression (to overcome opposition) 9
Understand (to analyze or experience ideas or objects) 8
Exhibition (to make an impression) 8
Dominance (to influence behavior of others) 5
Autonomy (to resist influence or coercion) 4
Infavoidance (to avoid embarrassment) 4
Deference (to admire or support a superior) 4
Source: McNeal (1987)
When appealing to these needs it is important for advertisers not to deceive children with their advertisements. There are five ways in which advertisements may deceive their young audience (McNeal 1987):
1. They may use celebrity presenters, which can exploit children’s trust in authority figures (McNeal 1987).
Celebrity endorsements which are common in many advertisements today, could be a bit too effective if the brand associated with the celebrity or role model does not hold enough merit on its own. Children might be swayed to ask their parents to purchase products because their favorite athlete, cartoon character, or actor “uses” the product, not because the product would improve the quality of their life in any way.
2. They may present products such as candy bars, toys, and hamburgers, without reference to a scale which may exploit children’s limited perception skills (McNeal 1987).
It is unfair to coerce children to make unhealthy choices because they lack the necessary cognition to know any better. That should go without saying however, the bottom line is the bottom line, and advertisers are in the business to sell their products.
3. They may focus on premiums rather than on the product, which may cause children to use wrong standards for assessing the product (McNeal 1987).
Anything that adds false merit to a product should be eliminated from advertising to children. This is an unfair advantage advertisers have over there young audience because they can project an image of a particular brand without providing any support for that image other than the superficial benefits of the product.
4. They may use adult terminology and contrived terms, which take advantage of children’s limited knowledge (McNeal 1987).
Sometimes adults don’t understand “adult terminology.” It is unfair to children for advertisers to use language that might prevent them from making correct judgements about advertised brands.
5. They may make excessive use of emotional terms and/or intense sounds or colors, which may exploit children’s gullibility (McNeal 1987).
Sensory overload is rightfully off limits because children are emotional enough and don’t need the extra help from television advertisements.
Advertisers attempt to cover up any possibly misleading message with disclaimers (McNeal 1987). Disclaimers such as “some assembly required,” “batteries not included,” or “accessories sold separately,” serve as the prerequisite for a moral, non-deceptive message. Research has shown that “these disclaimers do not have their intended result,” (McNeal 1987), and that “this incorrect impression may be passed on to parents” (McNeal 1987). This shows that children not understanding disclaimers can lead to frustration in parents and a very unsatisfied customer. The ad was successful in that it provoked a sale of the product, yet no brand loyalty would be built between those frustrated parents and the company selling the product.
One area under dispute is that children cannot distinguish between children’s programming and advertisements. Separators like “after these messages, we’ll be right back,” forecast to children that commercials are coming. Separators are also under criticism because they are not specific enough for children to understand. A study by Stutts, Vance, and Huddleson in 1981 showed that “seven year olds more quickly recognized commercial material when ‘The Bugs Bunny Show will be right back after these messages’ was changed to ‘Hey Kids. The next thing you will see will be a commercial and not part of the program you’ve been watching’” (McNeal 1987). It seems that if advertisers were more specific with respect to disclaimers and separators, they would be attacked less for their unethical practices when advertising to children.
For children to begin processing the message, they must pay attention to the message. Children’s attention to the advertisements is affected by both personal and stimulus factors (McNeal 1987). The following table summarizes these types of factors.
Factors That Affect Children's Attention to Television Advertisements
Level of motivation The child may desire to watch commercials, or certain
commercials, for information or entertainment value.
Attitudes toward commercials Children have developed negative feelings towards ads because
the ads interrupt programming or because they are perceived as
Influence of parents and peers Parents and peers can distract children from commercials
because of conversation that may begin at commercial time or
because of warnings about commercial content.
Lack of knowledge about commercials Children's attention may remain constant as programming
changes to commercials because the youngsters do not know
the difference between the two.
Programming nature Attention to commercials may vary because programs are boring
or interesting; for example, boring programs may invite attention
to entertaining commercials
Commercial content Advertisers use a variety of practices to get and keep children's
attention: music, singing, jingles, sound effects, animation,
celebrities, and well-known characters. Some are more effective
Product advertised Certainly the involvement children have with the products in
commercials will influence their attention to the ads, for example,
attention might be expected to vary depending on whether the
products advertised are for children or adults.
Public service announcements Because public service announcements are different from
commercial announcements (they may even be contrary to
them), children may give them special attention.
Source: McNeal (1987)
These factors represent a challenge facing advertisers today. Advertisers know that they cannot control most of these factors. However, they know that if a child does not pay attention to an ad, that child can have no cognition or display the desired purchase behavior. It is critically important that ads grab the attention of their young audience or they will be completely ineffective.
Cognitive Analysis of Children’s Behavior in Regards to Consumer Advertising
Cognition is the mental faculty or process by which knowledge is acquired. It is knowledge gained as through perception, reasoning, or intuition. (Webster’s II, 1984)
It is important to understand that there are many differences between children and adults who watch T.V. Children are different not only in the values and standards they bring, but also in the years of experience they have behind them, the physiological bases of their needs, and their abilities. I hope to clear up the reasons behind all of these differences and will start with a child’s basic cognitive process and then move into more specific situations.
We want to start out by discussing Jean Piaget’s cognitive development theory, but first here is a definition of cognitive theory. It is concerned with central organizing processes in higher animals, and it recognizes a partial autonomy of these processes, such that the animal becomes an actor upon, rather than simply a reactor to its environment. (Phillips, Jr. John L.,1969)
The cognitive approach is concerned more with structure rather than content with how the mind works. Cognitive development probably begins before birth according to many psychologists. Piaget has come up with four separate stages of cognitive development humans go through from birth do adulthood. The concept of cognitive states has several implications for how children perceive and think. First, stages imply distinct, qualitative differences in children’s modes of thinking or problem solving at different stages. Second, stages of thought form an invariant sequence in individual development, so although environmental factors may alter the rate of growth, they do not c
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