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Special Issues for Marketing to Young Children

According to "Consumer Reports" magazine, "Young children have difficulty distinguishing between advertising and reality in ads and ads can distort their view of the world. " The same can be assumed for entertainment products.

Truth

Research shows that children between the ages of 2 and 5 cannot differentiate between regular TV programming and commercials. Young children don't understand that content is not always true.

According to the Canadian Toy Testing Council the biggest area of concern with ads is exaggeration.

Materialism

As our globalized societies move toward a majority of urbanites, our values are changing. We no longer connect our consumption with natural production -- or with conservation. Materialism can arise from consumer-saturated cultural behaviors and may be escalating feelings of "narcissism, entitlement and dissatisfaction" among our children.

Identity

When children see themselves in the media as consumers only, and not as creative, caring, powerful individuals and members of their community and natural world, we stunt their development.

Junk food and nutrition concerns

We know advertising works -- most food advertising on children's TV shows is for fast foods, soft drinks, candy and sweet cereals -- and we have an obesity problem. As producers of messages for our children, we have a responsibility and opportunity to craft the next generation's values and understanding of the world around them. What we do and say makes a difference.

Marketing toys based on teen and adult entertaimment

Marketing toys and action games based on mature messages and labeling them in visual ways that attract children to violent behaviors is having an impact on our homes, our schools and our communities. Children want to play "grown up" and the role playing we inspire is how they learn.

Young consumers as collectors

Children love to collect things. These youthful collections used to consist of marbles, stamps or coins, but now, kids collect expensive store-bought items that are designed for massive collections. Lines of 150 cards and dozens of dolls that are marketed with slogans such as "Gotta catch 'em all" encourage children to collect for the sake of collecting, and negates values of beauty, sharing, self discipline and evaluating differences -- basic behaviors that are important to the growing intellect and heart of a child.

Summary

Our role in society is that of "artist" and it carries with it a weighty and lengthy heritage of provocative thought and caring values. Creating products for children is a special mission that crafts the society we will be living in as we grow older -- be careful what you wish for! :-)

SOURCE: visit www.media-awareness.ca for more thoughts and ideas on marketing media products for children.

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