The average American children and teenagers today are very easy targets of the commercial business. What do teenagers and kids love the most about television? Most parents believe television shows keep children tuned in for hours at a time. The Children s Television Resource And Education Center (#1) found among that 28 million children commercials are really, what keep them watching. The commercial business is what keeps most products on the market. Catchy songs, flashing colors and scenes related to having fun traps kids into commercials.
In one single year, a child or teen will watch 20,000 commercials according to James Bryant from Media, Children and the Family (#2). It comes from the most popular TV stations such as Nickelodeon, MTV or CBS. In a single hour of television, approximately 18 thirty-second commercials are shown. Today 80% percent of the commercials directed at teens and children are for toys, cereals, and fast-food restaurants. Kids believe the nutritional or technical claims of the commercial and the product becomes a necessity to them not just a want. Parents cannot explain to them why this product is not a necessity and has no real value.
The message that parents believe that should be spread is Children should not measured by what they own, but by who they are. (US West Parents Foundation # 3) Children are especially vulnerable to TV ads for toys, “junk food,” or cereals with high sugar content. Because of this, children networks such as Cartoon Network, or Nickelodeon, have agreed to limit certain advertising to children. Industry-financed groups such as the Children’s Advertising Review Unit of the Council of Better Business Bureaus (# 4) have developed guidelines on advertising to children.
Congress recently passed legislation designed to reduce the number of minutes of advertising time during children’s programming. This legislation also stops certain exploitative or uncalled for promotions of superhero figures, dolls, and other products. What commercials are actually being seen on these children based television networks? After I watched MTV for an average of 30 minutes of television on each station, 3 segments of 5 different commercials are shown. Of the 15 television commercials shown 53% of them were for toys such as talking dogs, wrestling action figures and electronic dolls.
The 32% of commercials were for fast food restaurants such as McDonalds and Burger King each showed a fast food toy to go with the commercial. Then the 15% of the commercials were for other television shows of that station. Each station repeated the same commercial 3 to 4 times during the 15 for the product to fully sink in and buy later. Unhealthy attitudes learned from the media during a child s childhood can conflict with adolescent years according to Dr. Wallack from Advisory Committee on Television and Social Behavior (#5).
By the time a teenager has graduated high school, 15,000 hours of television has been watched versus 12,000 hours of time spent in a classroom. Still television remains to be viewed as mere entertainment or fantasy. Unfortunately, adolescents do not view it as either. Teenagers are capable of understanding the deceptive nature of commercial advertising and represent a market for manufacturers and producers worth $71 billion a year, according to The Wall Street Journal in 1990.
Today the United States is the only Western nation that does not insist that its commercial networks produce at least one hour per day of educational programming for young adults. Sex has also become an issue in America today. It is used to sell everything from shampoo to cars. The average American teenager was found to view over 14,000 sexual references yearly in a report by Attitudes about Television, Sex and Contraceptives (#6). Teenagers do find commercials to be more then just entertaining, they are also incredibly informative (Dr. Dorr Graves Adolescent Mental Health).
The 28 million children watching the television for the commercials are greatly affected by them. Commercials today would not be possible if not for their young targeted audience. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (# 7) claims it is simply giving the American public what it wants and parents have the responsibility to guide their children s viewing, but should the parents have to censor what their kids are watching for what they are paying in cable bills a month? On the other hand, is television considered a common ground for corporations to get their business recognized? Neither Parent nor Corporation has found common ground.