Influence of Child Advertising

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Advertisements are a huge part of today’s world. So many advertisements are used to get people to join a “bandwagon”, a way of thinking or believing, or to get people to buy a certain product made by companies. Ads are shown everywhere even if you don’t know you are seeing them. You may see ads on billboards, Benches, mobile phones, and even social media. Advertisements are not in themselves a bad thing but some companies are crossing the line and targeting the youngest and most vulnerable in our society. Studies have been done on companies that have targeted just this audience and many share the growing concern that these “potentially manipulative ads in apps for preschoolers” are unethical. In this essay I will show different scenarios of advertisements being potentially manipulative to young kids in everyday life.

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Certain computer and phone “apps marketed to children 5 and younger deploy potentially manipulative tactics to deliver ads to children, raising questions about the ethics of child software design and consumer protection, according to new study” (Hamza Shaban, Washington post). Over 100 apps were looked at and studied by students at the University of Michigan. According to the researchers “The apps used a variety of ways to deliver ads to children, including commercial characters, pop-up-ads, in-app purchases and, in some cases distracting ads hidden ads or ads that were posed as gameplay items”. Many kids spend around an hour a day online on average, many spend much more.

Children turn on their television and see advert after advert luring them into games and toys that they must have to play with. “Most toys are now marketed as either for either boys or girls. You can walk into almost any toy store or chain and see the isles divided between blue and pink. The boys aisle are filled with toys linked to violent media and the girl isles are clutter with sexualised dolls, make-up kits, and princess paraphernalia. This marketing sells products, but it’s not good for kids. Research shows the harms media violence and sexualisatoin causes childeren, but companies continue to promote toys and media this way”. This is very unethical because it exploits children in their early developmental stages for profit. Their vulnerabilities are put to test and some companies are making profit off of children.

Some examples of companies that had to apologize for the unknowing backlash of their product or service being falsely promoted include Walt Disney, Hasbro, and Mcdonalds. Disney was at fault for promoting “baby Einstein” videos for young children as educational. Refunds were given to parents who had been wronged by the companies marketing. Hasbro made a line of dolls based on the pussy cat dolls, this singing group is known for sexualised songs and dances. A McDonald’s in Florida was not able to advertise that if elementary students got a good school report they could earn a free happy meal. Many more companies have been shot down with there advertising that may have been to gender specific, not fair to all kids and not totally truthful in their marketing.

Studies on advertising in children apps show that a number of apps force kids to watch ads or make in app purchases in order to advance in a game. These types of advertising practices are deceptive to adults and kids as well. Many apps use fun cartoon characters to make kids think that they need to make in app purchases in order to advance in the game.

Apps that were marked as educational had many advertisements that interrupted kids and made it more difficult to click through without being taken to the app store.

Today kids are being taken advantage of via their “developmental vulnerabilities”. Many companies and advertisements are controlling how the kids use the internet. In this essay I showed how different kinds of advertisements have been potentially manipulative to young kids in everyday life.  

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Influence Of Child Advertising. (2021, May 23). Retrieved January 31, 2023 , from

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