Advertising; How It Affects Children

Advertising; how it affects children

As a parent, you are responsible for protecting your child from the influence of advertising. It's impossible to ignore that our culture is saturated in commercialized messages, from television and online advertisements to billboards and movie product placements. Advertising is everywhere!

What Are Common Advertising Strategies Used on Children?

Regarding advertising, companies know that children can be powerful influencers on their parents' buying decisions, so they devise targeted methods to lure them. One common strategy is the use of memorable characters and catchy slogans. 

Companies are innovative and:


  1. create characters who become familiar and beloved by kids, prompting them to request their parents to buy those products. 

  2. They also concoct slogans and jingles that stick in kids' heads, making it hard for them to forget about said product.

  3. Another common strategy is targeting children's emotions. Companies know that if they can make kids feel excited, happy, or even scared about a product, they are more likely to want it—and prod their parents to buy it.

  4. Advertisers are also increasingly targeting younger children by playing off their natural curiosity. They take advantage of the kid’s desires to be like their parents by convincing them to buy grown-up products.

Toddlers and the Impact of Advertising 

Studies have shown that toddlers as young as 18 months understand the persuasive intent of ads and react to them accordingly. For example, when researchers exposed preschool-aged children to a toy commercial, the kids desired the toy. When given a chance to watch an advertisement for a food item, they became more interested in trying the food, even if they had already refused it before seeing it.

Preschoolers and the Impact of Advertising

Young children under the age of seven lack an understanding of the persuasive intent of advertisements. As a result, it's much easier for kids this age to be influenced by what they see on TV and online.

They can identify brands from a very young age and start forming associations with them. And once those associations have been made, it's hard for them to be changed.

Advertising affects preschoolers by influencing their buying habits of certain products and their views on gender identity and body image.

School Age and the Impact of Advertising

Impulse Buying

Advertising encourages kids to buy products on impulse. Children often need more resources or discernment to make smart decisions about their beliefs. As a result, kids end up purchasing products impulsively, resulting in short-term gratification with no long-term positive effect.

Values and Ideology

Advertisements provide a means for values and ideologies to be instilled in young minds. Kids are taught specific values based on the products advertised and valued by society. Advertisements shape how kids form opinions about themselves, their peers, and society.

Unrealistic Expectations

Young children are also vulnerable to creating unrealistic expectations based on what they see in ads. When things don't turn out as expected, it can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and even depression. All this is due to an unrealistic portrayal of reality in ads.

Teenage and the Impact of Advertising

While many teens may view ads as entertainment — because of the increasing sophistication in production values, humor, and special effects — there's some suggestion that this type of advertising has a more significant impact on them than ads geared toward older audiences.

Teens are likely to be swayed by advertisements suggesting instant gratification as a reward, a "cool factor" to obtain a specific product waiting for something they might need more. This can lead to impulse buying.

The impact of advertising on teens is far-reaching. It can lead to some deep-seated issues, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and feelings of being inadequate when compared with their peers.

Specific strategies like monitoring and limiting the use of screens or magazines that showcase advertisements and teaching children about the internet and its influence can help parents guide their children out of this persuasive market.


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