The effect of advertisements on children

Written by Vassiliki Simoglou on 23/08/2011. Posted in Articles

It has been estimated that a child watches 40,000 television advertisements on average per year. These advertisements mainly promote products such as toys and food of doubtful nutritional value. The televisual image with its immediacy invades the psychic space of children in a violent manner, generating needs and desires that probably would not have been created otherwise.

In this way, children learn to ask for material goods from their parents without being able, due to their young age, to consider and evaluate their own demands. Unlimited exposure of children to advertisements inevitably leads to over-consuming, while this type of overstimulation creates pressure for parents to satisfy immediately and without debate their children’s wishes.

Children’s behavior is altered according to the images they are exposed to and as a result, they will buy the advertised products either by themselves or by asking their parents to do so. Quite frequently, disputes arise between children and their parents, because the latter do not want to purchase products that their children request, just because they have seen them on an advertisement on television, on the internet or elsewhere. In many cases, indeed, the purchasing behavior of the whole family is affected by the demands of young children, jeopardizing the whole family’s financial budget.

The personality of children is shaped through a series of identifications, initially with the parental models and then with others, including the consumer ones. The models proposed by advertisements promise quick and easy development, creating confusion in the child’s internalized imagoes that inevitably will affect their psychological and cognitive maturation. Through these models, skinny figures are usually projected, with an emphasis on sexuality and shallow, frivolous and temporary relationships. Violence is another model that emerges from games’ advertisements with tremendous strength. Childhood becomes a theatre of daring and dangerous conflicts, while intrinsic aggressiveness is combined to external violence originating from the environment under various forms.

How should, then, today’s games be? They should be team games, offering the myth, namely the condition that enables the child to imaginarily identify with the game, but also allowing them to safely return back to their own reality. Thus, the responsibility of parents in the selection of games is fundamental. Parents should not allow their children to watch any broadcasted show indiscriminately, should not succumb uncritically to their demands, guided by their own guilt and potentially rough childhood. On the contrary, they are encouraged to discuss the reasons why a game should be prohibited, while at the same time suggest other games, more creative ones, where they would also participate themselves. Because we should never forget that when children insist on getting an object, it is not the object per se that they actually desire. What they are asking for, deep inside, is love and attention. So let’s put boundaries to their demands and give them what they truly need.

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Vassiliki Simoglou

Τα κείμενα που δημοσιεύονται στον παρόντα ιστότοπο εκφράζουν τις απόψεις του συντάκτη τους. Κατά το Ν. 2121/1993 και κατά τη Διεθνή Σύμβαση της Βέρνης (που έχει κυρωθεί με το Ν. 100/1975) απαγορεύεται η αναδημοσίευση και γενικά η αναπαραγωγή των κειμένων, με οποιονδήποτε τρόπο, τμηματικά ή περιληπτικά, στο πρωτότυπο ή σε μετάφραση ή άλλη διασκευή, χωρίς γραπτή άδεια του συντάκτη τους. Παραπομπές στα κείμενα θα πρέπει να γίνονται ως ακολούθως: Σίμογλου, Β. Ν., 2011, [Τίτλος κειμένου], προσβάσιμο στις [Ημερομηνία], από [URL].

The Ego is not master in its own house.

S. Freud


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