Schools are supposed to be public spaces, but more and more advertisers are using them to target youth. Corporations know just how much time kids spend at school, whether in class, in after-school activities or just hanging out with their friends, and they don’t want to pass up a chance to reach them there. A school setting delivers a captive youth audience and implies the endorsement of teachers and the education system.
Today’s kids have become the most marketed-to generation in history, due to their spending power and their future influence as adult consumers. By talking to kids about advertising - how it works and how they’re targeted - we can help them to become more savvy as consumers and more resistant to the pressures to be “cool.”
For parents, this time of year can feel like walking through a minefield, with ads, decorations and music all aimed at getting kids excited about the holidays. Every year children eagerly ask Santa for the “hottest,” “must-have” toys – and then turn that “pester power” on their parents. Of course, few parents want to be Grinches – we all want to make our children happy – but there can be a middle ground between giving in to pester power and canceling the holidays altogether. Here are some tips on how to control holiday consumerism:
Educate your kids about advertising and how marketers target young people
In its study of masculinity and sports media, the research group Children Now found that most commercials directed to male viewers tend to air during sports programming. Women rarely appear in these commercials, and when they do, they’re generally portrayed in stereotypical ways.
One of the most important recent developments in advertising to kids has been the defining of a “tween” market (ages 8 to 12).
In Canada, there are rules for advertising to children. Except in Quebec, where all advertising to children under the age of 13 is prohibited under the Quebec Consumer Protection Act, advertisements in broadcast media directed at children under 12 years of age must follow a set of voluntary guidelines called the Broadcast Code for Advertising to Children. The Code does not pertain to ads broadcast on U.S channels. Compliance with the Code is a condition of licence for Canadian broadcasters.
Parents of young children have an important role to play in protecting their kids from invasive marketing, and in educating them about advertising from an early age.
Canadians under the age of twenty – the “Echo Generation,” as they’re often called –make up a quarter (26 per cent) of the country’s population.
Advertising, particularly for fashion and cosmetics, has a powerful effect on how we see ourselves and how we think we should look. Women’s magazines in particular have a tremendous influence on body image, with researchers reporting that teenage girls rely heavily on them for information on beauty and fashion, valuing their advice nearly as highly as that of their peers.