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.
Most young children enjoy pretend play and love to imitate action heroes. But many teachers, parents and child care workers say the influence of children’s superhero TV shows or movies, can result in havoc when little fans get together.
The Internet provides marketers with many opportunities to elicit personal information from children. Kids love playing on the Web, and commercial sites for children are continually ranked as top online destinations.
Many preschoolers are already active computer users. According to a 2012 Ofcom report, one-third of children ages 3-4 access the Internet using a computer, while a 2011 survey by Common Sense Media found that roughly the same number have used mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. While children at this age have a limited attention span for online activities, Internet images and sounds can stimulate their imaginations and add to their experiences.
Regulation of television content in Canada is primarily a voluntary system. Broadcasters, cable systems and specialty channels follow voluntary codes of conduct that address issues such as violence, gender representation, ethics, and advertising to children.
Television watching should be a fun and relaxing activity for kids and adults alike—but too often it’s a source of family conflict.
If you’re concerned about television, banning it isn’t a practical solution. Instead, you need to learn to co-exist with television by managing how much your kids watch, and what.
Educate your kids about advertising and how marketers target young people
Whether it’s Darth Vader, the Daleks in Doctor Who or the winged monkeys in The Wizard of Oz, most of us remember seeing something on screen that we could only watch from behind a couch or under one of our parents’ coats: in fact, 90 per cent of adults report an enduring memory of having been traumatized as a child by something they saw on television or in a movie. What we may not remember, however, is how serious and persistent the effects of these frightening moments and images can be. As we guide our children through their media experiences, it’s important to realize that what they see can lead to problems like vivid nightmares, fear of the dark, having trouble sleeping and refusing to sleep alone.
In e-Parenting Tutorial: Keeping up with your kids’ online activities, Alice, a witty and cyber-savvy mom, takes parents on a tour of the many different Web environments and activities that are popular with children and youth.