advertisements and emerging technology studies are focusing on increasing attention on advertising to children, this has been an issue of concern for decades now (Nurses Association, 2001). One of the main issues of contention is whether to researchers should direct their communication towards children or whether they should communicate with their parents directly. In this regard, the study has focused on utilitarian and deontology theories in putting this issue into perspective.
Concerning young kids, it is reasonable to direct research efforts of snack foods, toys and games to their parents because parents are the main buyers of such products. Nevertheless, researchers are aware that better results can be achieved through directing research messages to children, partly because children do not have the capability to analyze research findings and the underlying messages critically. Similarly, children would want the products regardless of the research findings. While pressuring parents, kids substantially force their parents to make decisions on whether they should give into the wishes of their children. This has the potential of exerting pressure on the relationship in case the parents did not want to make the purchase (Hitchcock, Schubert & Thomas, 2010).
None of these ethical decisions, principles and theories has offered an absolute guidance towards good actions. However, these theories have provided frameworks for making informed decisions for human research because they seek to define the moral limits of acceptable research behavior. This is achieved through laying down guidance for decision-making based on the limits. For decades, ethics has been grounded on two main theories. John Stuart and Jeremy Benjamin developed the utilitarian and deontology theories, whereby they defined the moral advantages of research actions through the consequences of those actions. For a long time, the utilitarian theory has distinguished the good from the bad by placing defined emphasis on the advantages of those acts. These are the actions generating great happiness for a majority of people. Sometime, the utilitarian theory needs that researchers must sacrifice some good. For instance, an impaired newly born baby is likely to burden the entire society as well as the family. Therefore, the best decision would be to let such a child to die (Vaughn, 2010).
The utilitarian theory emphasizes that researchers are responsible for their duties by distinguishing the right from wrong in the course of their duties while maintaining adherence to their research responsibilities. According to this theory, we do not determine an appropriate action through its consequences but its intentions. This theory examines the choice of actions rather than the consequences of actions. This theory is deeply embedded in principle of respect leading to the concept that respect for other people is inclusive of autonomous decisions. The respect principle applies informed consent during research activities (Hill, 2009). Utilitarian theory is both confronting and appealing because it is a source of rules applied in different situations. It enables researchers to be confident because they will always know what is right from wrong by abiding by the rules. Nevertheless, this theory has strength that also serves as its main weakness. Critics have argued about the inability and rigidity of the concept in operating equitably within different research circumstances.
A recent media article published in a U.S. based research magazine focusing on kids' products recognized the unethical efforts of research. This led to public perceptions attracting parents' response. The research captioned "Monsters Inc." emphasized on how researchers can thwart billions of dollars in research efforts to steal the dreams of children by infiltrating their friendship. This is achieved through hijacking the imagination of children, fragmenting spans of their attention and driving wedges between their relationships with parents (Cournoyer, 2011). Following the perspective of this theory of duty, it is potentially exploitative to direct research messages to children; thus, in any form, this is wrong. As much as strong support has been placed on substantial restrictions on research findings for children, majority of people have agreed that there exists research studies, which have been accepted to some moral limits. To be precise, research messages for older kids and beneficial products such as options for healthy food and exercise. If a categorical imperative is formed to maintain that research findings geared to kids is unethical, there will be an opportunity for accommodating any exceptional condition to this principle (Hill, 2009).
Attempts of creating universal laws and policies governing research studies meant for kids seeking to accommodate diverse standards set in various nations has been a challenge. For instance, research regulations in France tend to be extremely restrictive than standards in America. According to research laws, research studies featuring French children are not allowed to be key players for products not meant for them or which they do not purchase (Nurses Association, 2001). For decades, Michelin has been televising research campaigns in America, which were prohibited in France, the home country of the company; in these campaigns, samples of infants were seen floating on tires during snowy and rainy conditions. Many people were amused by the campaigns about smiling kids. However, the underlying message was playing on the fears of parents for the safety of their children. Though this research campaign was legalized in the U.S., it could not be conducted in France; it was prohibited because of using infants in conducting research studies on Michelin tires, which was violating the law. This is because it was believed that the research studies were praying on the delicate bond between parents and children in selling everything from tires to life insurance. Although the U.S. has placed restrictions on research studies meant for children, they have legalized the use of children as primary samples in researching products, which are not useful to these kids (Littleton-Gibbs & Engebretson, 2007).
With respect to the utilitarian theory, different standards cannot be accommodated in different nations because there is no universal law governing human research. In this case, the law in France greatly protects children unlike the law in the U.S. Utilitarian and deontological theories argue that a good action will lead to a good consequence, and the reverse happens. Actions are neither immoral nor moral in themselves; what counts are the results of these actions. However, in this context, we are challenged to decide which impacts should be given first priorities. Based on the utilitarian and deontological concepts, researchers should maintain actions that yield the greatest possible benefits for majority of the population. In the current century, this is increasingly becoming a workable idea. However, it is extremely complex for human researchers to determine the greatest benefits for the larger part of the population (Hill, 2009).
For example, a snack research company argues that shipping juice concentrate from a certain supplier may be inconsistent with the standards set by the company: sometimes the products had proportions of flavored sugar rather than pure juice. The research company was plunged in a dilemma because they had failed to meet the standards of researching 100% pure juice. This firm had to go back to the drawing by researching the unused products and struggled to make decisions regarding the concentrate. This is because they could not differentiate between pure juice and sugar flavored juice. In the context of utilitarian theory, this company had to deal with the dilemma of choosing to destroy all the research findings. This could result in losses and bankruptcy. They could also opt to maintain the findings encouraging the snack company to maintain the products in the market to retain their financial viability because no one could detect the disparity between the two types of products. In this case, the company left the products in the market with the knowledge that all the products were 100% pure juice. This drew sharp criticism, with critics arguing that the research company crucified consumers in exchange of long-term financial viability of the snack…