Marketing to Children
I feel that there should be rules that companies have to follow with respect to marketing to children. Basically, I do not buy into the argument about critical analysis. The way that the brain develops, young children do not, physically, have the capacity for critical analysis. As children age, they will begin to develop the different levels of cognition that allow for critical thought, to the point where a teenager is fully capable of thinking critically (Kuhn, 1999). The problem, even then, is that children do not have much practice in critical thinking at that age. Advertisers use the most up-to-date knowledge of psychology and sociology to sell their products -- most adults can offer little resistance, let alone children. Thus, children are a vulnerable population, psychologically ill-equipped to...
Thus, a young children cannot reasonably draw the line between fast food and obesity in order to make healthy eating choices, for example. Rules stand between marketers and children. I advocate that children should not be targeted by marketing for products that are clearly harmful with no discernable value, in order to give them a chance to become capable of critical thought before being subjected to endless advertisements.
The restrictions should be across all marketing channels. Basically, if you leave a loophole open for companies, they will take it. So you must close off all channels when you determine that a certain industry cannot market to children. The system by which this would work need not be complex. First, you have your list of products- say you want to ban the marketing of e-cigarettes to children. This means you must prohibit the sale of e-cigarettes in locations visible to children, on children's programing (or set a time like no ads until after 9pm). A regulatory body would need to be utilized to handle consumer complaints, and fines or prohibitions on advertising to anybody would be punishments suitable to dissuade advertisers. So yes, certain products can be barred, certain times of day can be barred, or simply applying the "Santa Claus" rule, wherein specific imagery is verboten. As an example, McDonalds could advertise a Big Mac any time it wants, but not a Happy Meal or use a clown or anthropomorphic blob, or alleged hamburger thief.
The tricky area is when it gets to the slippery slope. E-cigarettes are an easy target. But when you…
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