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Dr. Sanjay Kumar Faculty ICFAI, Jaipur and
Dr. Pushp Lata
Assistant Professor Languages Group, FD-1 BITS, Pilani
Abstract The objective of this paper is to explore the harmful effects of advertising on children’s mental and physical health. The study includes the analysis and the impact of various advertisements, which appear on television screen in India. It also discusses at length how parents can help their children make better use of media by educating them regarding the susceptibilities of advertisement.
Media offers entertainment, culture, news, sports, and education. They play a vital role in our lives. While a number of factors influence the cultural values and life styles of a society, the overwhelming amount of advertising and its prevalence in mass media lead us to argue that advertising leaves an indelible imprint on our social and cultural values. Ronald Berman in his book Advertising and Social Change, says: The institutions of family, religion and education have grown noticeably weaker over each of the past three generations. The world itself seems to have grown more complex. In the absence of
2 And its impact on children can not be overlooked. and developing other necessary physical. Impact of Advertising on Children According to an in depth research done on the influence of advertising on children it was found that children between the age of 2 and 11 watch an average of 21.1 The same is true regarding the impact of advertising on children. sing an advertising jingle. They get a message that everybody uses these things and . has become the major source of information and entertainment and mostly guides their thinking and living patterns. most of them can mimic a movie or TV character. The fundamental reason is that they cater to all sections of society and address to varied themes. It depicts us in all the myriad situations possible to a life of free choice. It provides ideas about style. in a matter of seconds. one of the most controversial topics advertisers must deal with is the issue of advertising to children. Advertisements and movies also send kids a message that smoking and drinking make a person sexy. not unhealthy and deadly.5 hours of TV a week and may see between 22000 and 25.000 commercials a year. Most of the time the impact is not so immediate or obvious. It occurs slowly as children see and hear advertisements or actions in movies over and over. mental and social skills. reading. or give other examples of what they have learnt from media. Therefore. Television viewing which frequently limits children’s time for vital activities such as playing. As far as children are concerned. For instance when time and again they have watched fighting and other violence used as a way to "handle" conflict or they get an image that smoking cigarettes and taking alcohol make the user more cool and attractive. storytelling. learning to talk. participating in regular exercise. These examples may include naming a popular brand lets say from toothpaste to beer or from play fighting to striking a "sexy" pose. morality and behaviour. immature minds get rather lured to all such habits which we may not want them to develop. spending time with peers and family. advertising has become a kind of social guide.traditional authority. Advertisements through various media have much to teach but some of what these advertisements teach may not be what we want our children to learn.
thefts. which are appearing on television screen and how are they distressing the children in India. and cigarettes. Advertising Causing an Alarming Change in Indian Milieu One revolution that advertisements have brought about in India is certainly that of reengineering the mindset. Teens. They are quick to assess that a society that has long lost its sense of direction owing much to the loss of leadership at the top. junk food and sachet packed food. The glamorous presentation indirectly discourages people from taking up the tasks. To our consternation. which also is a sort of post-god era as well. which need physical activity. Obviously it is the star either of the celluloid or of the cricketing ground that befittingly fulfills the prerequisites of the hero for a society whose sense of destiny seems to be dwindling at a fast pace.therefore there is no harm if they use either. wine. media heavily promotes unhealthy and malnutricious food like instant food. are promptly replacing the heroes of the past – the ones who now appear boring to the modern generation – with their own versions of heroism. Advertising is affecting the whole world and India the country that has inherited a rich traditional culture and values. . is no exception to it. indiscipline in school and colleges and use of unfair means and above all untimely deaths and suicides. It would not be an exaggeration to say that advertising in fact. and murder. who see a lot of ads for beer. sways teens to smoking and drinking. Now let us trace some of the advertisements. On the contrary. liquor. Alcohol-related problems have proliferated among teens in recent years and have resulted in many negative consequences such as gang rape. In a postmodern era. robbery. it strongly advocates the viewers that they need to lose weight and be slim and thin. advertisement agencies are redefining the laws of living for Indians. too admit that it provokes them to drinking and smoking.
Hitting right at the adolescent adrenaline comes the advertisement announcing : “Nayee Umang Nayee Tarang. the idiot box is busy in enticing their viewers in seeing a world that arises essentially out of their make-believe assumptions. Hence it is through advertisements that the good-old sweets are getting replaced by chocolates. balding nincompoop. Vivekanand or Mother Teresa – or all those who gave away their lives for a higher.There is no surprise therefore that in place of Gandhi. they are replacing the good old passions with new found obsessions. we see the millennium star dancing in comic exuberance and suggesting “Kucch Meetha Ho Jaye” to his audience for it is the time to celebrate the success of Pappu – the quintessential. Now we all know that Krish is a famous movie that is ardently watched by young boys and girls. Sharukh. or Sachin. Advertisements are playing a crucial role in defining not only the patterns of understanding but they are focused also on changing the reactions such perception arouses in people. Since our millennium star does not mind suggesting that Cadbury Chocolate is as good as Meetha – normally some sweets in typical Indian context – people are led to believe that they can as well celebrate their festivals and success with chocolate. the advertiser is able to strike home the affinity of the product with the masses. Thus. the TV screen spells a soothing escape from their own inadequacies and a harried existence and what they want is something simply entertaining or duly sensational to drown their own frustrations in the shadowy reality of the world. nobler cause – it is Amitabh. Since they know that it is mostly kids and . the millennium star. who finally has managed to pass his matriculation. Naturally for an anxiety ridden and stress driven society. Krish Ke Sang”. the cricketing genius who suggest that the word hero is only metaphorical and people should not expect anything real from their heroes. Therefore. The Krish referred to here in the advertisement however is a Pan Masala. middle aged. Good at reading the pulse of the masses. the king khan . By selecting a name familiar to people being the title of the movie. rather than engaging people in a meaningful discussion.
it seems they are trying to bewitch them. However. However. Since it is now known to most of us – thanks especially to television again where the breaking news usually is who is marrying whom – that Ajay and Kajol are a family now. the advertisement for Tata Indicom lures them to be with celebrities from the celluloid and suggests coolly : Ajay. suggestions being that the buyer of Tata Indocom is no less than a celebrity himself. Kajol Aur Aap. Somehow becoming a celebrity is seen as everyone’s catch these days. They therefore focus not on what does good but what looks and feels good physically and sensually. they leave a footnote which renders their ploy safe and smart. Branding their product after a popular movie. This advertisement does not fascinate only the youngsters but many grown-ups too might feel like sharing with a family of celebrities receive you. Consequently the idea of living big as propagated by the Infinity Club is centred on Winning in the Pool against Mr Sharma. being with a celebrity is also looked up as being a celebrity in itself. as they are supposed to play safe legally. It is not all that Infinity Club offers – it has other. Quite deftly hence the advertisement is able to mesmerize the present as well as the prospective customers for their product. they write on the border of the advertisement the instruction “Not for Minors”. they successfully strike a cord of familiarity with their present as well as prospective customers. And in this make-believe world of ours. they are attempting also to convert the very ethos and concept of a society which now ostensibly manifests the tendencies and attitudes that are capitalistic in tone and tenor. since it is not lawful to sell intoxicating substance to youngsters. the growing boys and girls display a rather strong zeal to be with the celebrities. Advertisements are not only suggestive of an alternative life in action.youngsters who are charmed by such movies. may be infinite. Once more they target the soft minds – those who either are ignorant of the games played on them – or the ones whose sensibilities are plaint enough to be moulded to any formative construction. this invitation has the lure to take the reader into the cozy private comfort of a family fold. followed by Cocktail Celebration in the Lounge Bar. . Therefore. Here again.
trite and drab existence. However. since being a human means not just existing like any other creature. Critics argue that children are especially vulnerable to advertising because they lack the experience and knowledge to understand and evaluate critically the purpose of persuasive advertising appeals. . living it with metaphors of eternity and infinity is something that can give to it the connotations of meaningful existence.cuisine Restaurant. they end their message hammering a stupendous idea in the mind : Zindagi Milti Hey Ek Bar. or intellect that all efforts are made to satisfy only the sensuous and the sensual urges for that is all that we are supposed to be having with us. Causes of Controversy Much of the controversy over advertising stems from the ways many companies use it as a selling tool and form its impact on society’s tastes. The advertisements today therefore are not just confining themselves to promoting the sale of a product. but providing a meaningful construct to the existence such defined.lucrative offers which includes sharing Some Special Moments with Some Special Friends at a Multi . living big physically or materially becomes an alternative method of appending meaningful assumptions to our otherwise meaningless. It is because of this ideological shift. Jiyo Shan Se … Live Big. Hence a bold suggestion that since it is no longer possible to attain salvation through mind and soul let us achieve infinity by living big may be just at a physical level. This strategy stems from a belief that life comes once and not forever. However the concern over advertising and other forms of promotion directed at children is also receiving greater attention due to the increasing viewing options children .something that again spells sensuality for the reader. values and lifestyles. Obviously. which refuses to recognize the world of emotion. they are forcing a paradigm shift in the thinking patterns of the people. If nothing of these works. the idea of living big is confined to sheer physicality as the advertiser shares proudly the belief of not believing in anything else but the physical and temporal with the reader.
And as an outcome of this FTC report recommended banning all TV advertising for any product directed to or seen by audiences composed largely of children under age eight because they are too young to understand the selling intent of the advertising.have as a result of the growth of cable television. But we can always hold and maintain the other aspect of it very strongly that we being parents are ultimately responsible for teaching our kids what to see and how to interpret. They must communicate accurately and truthfully knowing that children may learn practices from advertising that can affect their health or well-being. and cannot distinguish between reality and fantasy. they should bank on the positive aspects of life such as friendship. Some favored regulations because of kids’ inability to evaluate advertising messages and make purchase decisions. Parents can help their children make better use of media by educating them and some of the following tips may serve as the guidelines for this purpose: . Though some feel that the government is responsible for protecting children from the potentially harmful effects of advertising and other forms of promotion. since some of the critics charge that advertising to them is inherently unfair and deceptive and should be banned or severely restricted. Set the Home Stage for Media Education When children are very young. This issue received a great deal of attention in 1979 in America.regulatory mechanisms already existed and the appropriate places for restricting advertising to children was in the home. Moreover. honesty.3 The group that holds the opinion that advertisers have a special responsibility to protect children from their own susceptibilities. kindness. most of the media use takes place in the home. respect etc. The others opposed regulation because members of that group believed many self. says that advertisers should not stimulate unreasonable expectations of product or performance directly or indirectly by advertising. A heated debate has ensued. Research has also shown that children do not perceive the selling intent of commercials. It was debated intensely. since it comes under the domain of government. we should stop bothering ourselves about regulations.
may not happen in the "real" world. How do these affect which stories your child wants to read? Read a few stories and compare their content with their headlines and photos. Is any of this information in the ad? Does the ad give any specific information about the product itself? How is the product different than it seemed from the ad or packaging? • Make them think what the advertisements claim may not prove to provide you the same comfort or taste or physique or quality. or packaging. This may be tricky during children's shows because many commercials advertise toys based on TV characters. or other such products can your child name? If she can name even one. Look at the ingredients. • Look at the headlines.• Play "Spot the Commercials. would a person really be able to drive a car super fast. or video game with your child. • Do a taste test to compare a heavily advertised brand with a generic or other nonadvertised brand. For example. Let your child and his friends tell the difference and judge how far advertising has influenced their guesses. and placements of articles in a newspaper. Discuss the health risks of using these products and how the ads leave out that information. without crashing? • While shopping. video. • When you see a movie. • How many brands of beer. photos. violent. talk about the fact what happens on screen. • Watch a music video with your child. cigarettes. or . Talk about the difference between fantasy and reality. label. What stories are the pictures telling? Does the story on screen match the meaning of the words in the song? How does the video make your child feel? Can your child note any stereotypical. compare products with advertisements your child has seen. Try products such as cereals or soft drinks. down narrow streets."4 Help your child learn to tell the difference between a regular program and the commercials that support it. this is a great way to begin talking about the power of advertising.
One way to do this is to use a timer. Help children and teens choose shows. • • Keep TV sets. • Be clear and consistent with children about media rules. It would not be an exaggeration to say that advertising shapes the consciousness of children. VCRs. This includes time watching TV and videotapes. they may have the deleterious effects as it has the potential to influence children’s eating habits. Limit children's total screen time. Use these ratings to decide what media are suitable for your child. videos. and evaluate the advertisements they watch and see. buying habits and mental health. • Set media time limits. they are easy targets for commercial persuasion This is a critical concern because the most common products . no exceptions. When the timer goes off. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality TV and videos a day for older children and no screen time for children under the age of 2. If you do not approve of their media choice. • Set family guidelines for media content. alcohol. If children are exposed to these media without adult supervision. analyze.sexual images in the video? Is there any tobacco. playing video and computer games. Get into the habit of checking the content ratings and parental advisories for all media. • Make a media plan. and computers out of children's bedrooms. A media plan helps everyone to choose and use media carefully. video games. your child's media time is up. Because young minds do not understand persuasive intent in advertising. Schedule media times and choices in advance. explain why and help them choose something more appropriate. and surfing the Internet. or drug use? Watch a music video or any other television programme which might interest them with the sound off and see how it is different. and video games that are appropriate for their ages and interests. exercise habits. Conclusion The influence of the media and the advertising through it is extremely profound on the psychosocial development of children. Develop the skills to question. just as you would other activities.
” Comments by the Association of National Advertising Agencies. since most of the media takes place at home. pp. No. sweets. Michael J. p. Liebert and Joyce Sprafkin. However.marketed to children are sugared cereals. “Selecting Celebrity Endorsers: The Practitioner’s Perspective. 13 Fer Erdogan. . Vol. parents should also carry out their duty of imparting media education to their kids. and the American Advertising Federation before the Federal Trade Commision (November 24. Robert M. References Ronald Berman. It is the responsibility of the advertisers and government to take into account the farreaching impact of advertisements on young brains. 1998).” Journal of Advertising Research. 43(May/June 2001). Parents' choices about their children's eating habits are undermined by junk food ads everyday. 39-48 “The Positive Case for Marketing Children’s Products to Children. 1981). Baker and Stephen Tagg. 1978). CA: Sage. The Early Window:Effects of Telivision on Children and Youth (New York: Pergamon. sodas and snack foods. candies. Advertising and Social Change (Beverly Hills. 41.
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