Sunday, August 28, 2005

Advertisers prey on children

"The very first law in advertising is to avoid the concrete promise and cultivate the delightfully vague."
- Bill Cosby

Children should be taught that the sole objective of all forms of advertising is to take money from them. They also should be taught that advertisers will attempt to do this by making them believe that they need something that they, in fact, likely do not need.

The purpose for this kind of teaching is not to squelch commerce and destroy the economy, but to make children aware that advertisers are more interested in their own income than in the welfare of their customers. This puts the buyer and the seller on more of an equal footing, as should be the case with a business arrangement.

Ask any child in a predominantly Christian country what he or she wants for Christmas and you will always get a definite answer. No doubt, the child wants a toy (or toys) that has been advertised on televison since early September. The toy may be broken by the end of December or abandoned two weeks later, but the child has wanted it for months before Christmas.

Children deserve to know that their minds are being manipulated. Banning addvertising aimed at children is a backwards and counterproductive way of doing things. Just teach the kids what advertisers are doing and they will be more inclined to want something they can really use rather than what has been imprinted on their brains by advertising.

Items that children can use to build or to create, activities that will help them to develop in a healthy manner, are seldom advertised. Yet these will last longer than conventional toys and will contribute to a child's development in ways that toys never will. They also provide activities that kids can use when they gather together to play, longer after Christmas has passed.

Children have the ability to ignore advertising just as much as adults. We need to give them the knowledge about advertising, rather than assuming that they will not understand what advertising is all about. They understand. They simply do not have any built up defences against it. They are denied this knowledge because of adult ignorance of their capabilities.

Teach the children.

Bill Allin
'Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today's Epidemic Social Problems,' seeking to protect children from ignorance imposed on them by adults.
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