My wonderful son, 11 years-old, hollers from upstairs, “Mom. I have an idea.”
“Really, what would that be?” I ask.
He replies, “If you buy me this Starwars Lego Power Function, I can make my Legos move like a remote control.”
I think to myself, just last week he wanted me to buy him some kind of kit to build a remote control tank. Only a couple hundred dollars, he informed me.
It seems everyday I hear, I want, Can you get me, or I need. Where do these ideas come from? They come from companies marketing to children. The Starwars Lego thing he saw in his Lego magazine that he had to have that was in his Lego kit. He goes online and gets Lego ideas and needs more Lego stuff thats available on Lego’s Web site.
Is this concept of marketing to children ethical? Is it fair for them to always feel like they have to have more? Is if fair to the parents who can barely buy groceries?
The answer is that it is just business like any other business. According to Sharon Beder’s article, Marketing to Children, U.S. spends about $100 BILLION on non-necessary items such as sweets and electronics. According to Beder, children as young as 4 are targeted by advertisers. Ethical concerns center around children’s ability to understand the concept of advertising such as children actually being paid actors and the idea that everything looks cool in an advertisement. My son would see a toy move and fly and to him he thought it would really do that, but he was disappointed when he had to pretend it flew.
Emerging media is a key tool marketers are using to reach children. By using online interactive games or advergaming and online music videos, Apps, and ringtones companies are communicating and creating a relationship with children. I imagine a company to answer me like this:
Its just business.
So, companies are going to advertise to children just like candy products always have. Who is going to tell the child NO? The company or the parent?