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The Effects of Advertising on Adults and Children

An excellent example of paper 2 by Tiffany Rozee

Advertisers work as social agents, a social agent is defined as "those who pass on social expectations"(Andersen, m & Taylor, F "Sociology in Everyday Life; chapter 4 2008) we know that Family, Religion, Peers and Media are all strong influences in the socialization process, but how do advertisements fit into the picture. We view them all over the world, there are studies to prove you can not ignore adds, even when turning off the sound, the visual picture alone can influence us. Even on a subconscious level we still absorb the message. It has been said that "People are most influenced, when they are not paying attention at all" ("The Ad and the Ego" Boihem, H. 1997") "Advertising monopolizes our space by reaching the culture by which we live"(The Ad and the Ego" Boihem, H. 1997")

We watch advertisements on television, read them in news papers & magazines and drive by them on the way to work, posted on billboards everyday. We hear them playing as we are walking around the market and in between our favorite song, on the radio. Our Friends, Co-workers and Family members can even, at times, be walking advertisements; for example, how many times have you heard something similar to:" You should really try this new dish washing detergent, it get's rid of water spots" or "You should try Revlon's eye shadow, it's much better than Cover Girl." Have we put enough thought, into how deeply effected we are by these ads? What pressure do we feel to try things; although they are things we might not normally try just because others are using it, or the commercial say's that "you are not ok, if you don't have....." Advertising's main objective is to "Produce consumers" (The Ad and the Ego" Boihem, H. 1997). Do we conform and purchase items to fit in with others, Co-Workers, Friends and Family, or do we purchase items because we think it will make us feel better, about ourselves that we will be prettier and feel sexier because of the new soap, or shoes we purchased. Or are we just a culture obsessed with "Purchasing" because we know that we can.

Advertisements can help to fill our minds with self doubt and can keep us at constant conflict with our selves. In particular, commercials and advertisements for beauty products are not geared to make you feel good about yourself and they are not created to make us see the good in each and everyone of us. They are urging people to consume, and they have figured out the most effective way to do so. This is to preying on what is wrong with you, what nine out of ten people are insecure about, looks and what others perceive us as. They know, no one person is perfect and by marketing on people's imperfections, they know they will find consumers. Though how does our brain interpret advertisements? Why is it some ads don't effect me at all, I can even find my self making fun of them; Though, other times I have seen an ad and thought to myself "I should probably get that, they say it works to help my hair become softer" Maybe my hair isn't soft enough. On some level the ad hit a nerve, the advertisers found something I was self conscious about and made be believe, by buying that conditioner, it would make me have "better" hair than I have now. That it would make me "happier having softer hair". That buying this product, everything will be "better". Most times after purchasing we aren't left with the feeling that we are prettier now we bought this, sometimes we are left with even more self doubt than we began with and guilt. We might have been expecting much more than what we got. And in turn, lead us once again to believe that we, alone, are not good enough.

What effect does Advertisements and Commercials have on children, there are many studies on the effects commercials have on children, One article in particular shows one impact advertisements have on young minds is; "The effects of commercials on children's perception of gender appropriate toy use" Sex Roles: A Journal of research, 2005 Pike, J & Jennings N) The article touches on the influence of stereotypical roles displayed on television, and how they can effect a way a child perceives males vs. female's. This is one of many different things that can right from the start give the wrong impression off, to a very impressionable mind .Context of a commercial has changed from what I can remember as a child; Although, I can still remember seeing the beautiful women on TV and hoping , one day I would look like her. I would cut out photos of models from magazines that I idealized; I think it gave me a false image of beauty. These days young Girls and Boys are seeing the Vitoria Secret model, and thinking "that's it "that's what beauty is. Then turning around and using this as the "standard" to live by. I can remember as I got older young men in my class, would have posters of Cindy Crawford from the "Drink Milk" ads. I would feel inferior in comparison to these models. What message is this sending a child by selling sex? Today's commercials and Advertisements have gotten increasingly inappropriate, though there has always been a level of sexism and/or exploitation of Women and Men there seems to be increasingly more adult humor and private subject matter shown on public television and broadcasted on radio; Involving; impotence, STDS and Lotions & Potions" for a better sexual experience, try this". Are these commercials children need to be constantly aware of? As adults, if you were in need of one of these products wouldn't we know where to find them? Should there be a warning before these commercials, or maybe they should be aired during times adults would be watching.

What about the inappropriate commercials for fast food, selling the sexy women washing a car in a swim suit, or using other sexual innuendos to sell a Hamburger. Recently, I watched a skit done for a Carl's junior fast food restaurant commercial. The commercial begins in the waiting room of a Plastic Surgeons office; women are sitting down waiting to speak to a Doctor. Soon, "Dr 90210" comes into the patients room and says " I have been reading your file, and it states you are interested in breast augmentation" The Doctor pretends to take a few measurements and at this point you have no idea who/what the patient is, he is speaking to. The Doctor then say's "Wow, kind of small", followed by, "Now there is nothing wrong with small breasts but I think in your case, it would build your self confidence if you went bigger" As he uses hand gestures to emphasize the size the breasts should be. Eventually, the camera pulls back and you see who the patient is, a live chicken. The commercial ends, showing a chicken sandwich with the ad" Naturally larger chicken breasts, on the new bacon Swiss crispy chicken sandwich" (Carl's junior, restaurant.) I know that this was an offensive commercial to some; I have actually spoken to other women who have seen it. I think of my self as a fairly calm and open minded person but after seeing this commercial I was genuinely offended. Sexuality, and promiscuity to sell a product, and using Women's sex appeal to sell a point is not only in- proper but is considered offensive. What is a young Girl to think by seeing this commercial is there any embarrassment at school by fellow class mates who have seen this commercial. By showing young boys and young ladies, Adult women dressing promiscuously to sell a product no matter what product is, gives off an array of negative assumptions and a false depiction of a Woman and how one should behave. Are the young boys going to grow up and believe their wife must look and behave this way? Isn't this all apart of the socialization process? And by children seeing these things as expectable behavior, going to set the pace for adulthood, and mold them into what they become as an adult. Like the saying goes, "children are like sponges" and "Socialization begins the moment a person is born" "(Andersen, M Taylor, H Sociology in Everyday life 2008)

Military recruiting, can be another form of inappropriate advertising in my eyes, one of the Army's slogans "There is strong and then there's Army strong" to me implies, you are only strong, if you join the military. Some of the words the military uses in their commercials like "Obey" and "Command" and that "there is nothing on this green earth as strong as, the Army." At one point saying, it "builds character" while in the back ground, the soldiers are carrying guns followed by explosions. This gives off a very confusing visual message, to me it says; that the way to build "character" is to join the military, that they use force and weapon to reach their objective. Many of the US Navy commercials, one slogan "accelerate your life" also used in a minivan commercial, seemed to be designed and filmed like a video game, with intense rock music playing in the back ground and vivid color, even the shots of the soldiers seem almost animated .Is this a plot to appeal to a younger generation, by making joining the Navy look like fun? Do Children need to hear these commercials, and are children more likely to join the military or make it a goal in life after seeing these commercials, or feel that you are only a "real man, or woman" if you join. There is a lot of preying on the minds of the young impressionable children taking place.

Following a string of violent events that happened in schools through out the US, Public Broadcasting developed a rating system for programs. The television company believed that children were behaving so violently towards others, due to the violent content shown on television. When Adult content, or Violent content was to be shown on television a "warning" would come across so parents could sensor what it was their children were about to watch. Why are commercials not censored, or why not have stricter guidelines to the content shown? Though commercials maybe not show any violence with in the 10-30 seconds it is aired and the chances following a commercial a child commits a violent crime against someone else is slim but what about the psychological dammage they might inflict on them selves, and the damage the commercial may have caused to their "self-esteem". "A racy commercial" can do "other damage. There are plenty of studies showing the negative effects some commercials have on children, poor self esteem being one; which, in turn can lead to eating disorders(in combination) can commercials directly lead to other disorders and depression? Like I stated earlier, the commercials that we catch in between our television shows are not priding us on how great we are, and telling us "You are perfect, there's nothing wrong with you" they are telling us there is something you need to change about yourself and "Constantly trying to meet the beauty ideals of the dominant culture can result in feelings of low-self worth and may encourage potential harmful behavior" (Andersen M.L, Sociology in Everyday life, Chapter-4 "conformity & Individuality.") So why it is commercials don't have to fall under stricter guidelines.

Many years ago, advertisers found the most effective way to reach children with ads, and by doing this not only did they reach in the parent's pockets, they created "Child consumers" who one day will turn into "Adult consumers" with much deeper pockets then their parents before them. In conclusion, It is the job of parents, consumers and people in general to make decisions wisely , when it comes to monitoring what their children watch on television, and to take into consideration it is not just programs that contain adult content or material not suitable for children, but commercials too. Explain to children what they are seeing, and take the time to teach children about confidence and self esteem, reinforce good habits. It is the job of the parent to do these things, not that of the advertisers. Children must learn to form their own opinions and ideas in life, and it is crucial that we take the time to prepare them for what they may see on television. Advertisements are designed to teach kids to" want", that they "can't live" without and that they "won't fit in" until they have what ever it is the advertiser is trying to sell. These tactics are the exact opposite of what a parent is trying to teach their children; which are, positive values, individual opinions and most of all self esteem; which, are a necessity in becoming intelligent, independent and confident adults, who will make good decisions.

Text Book : Andersen, L Margaret and Taylor, F Howard. 2008 Sociology in Everyday Life, Thomson Wadsworth: USA

Article: Pike, Jennifer and Nancy Jennings. 2005. Sex Roles: "The effects of commercials on children's perceptions of gender appropriate toy use."

Video: documentary, "The Ad and the Ego"
Director. Boihem, Harold. Parrallax Pictures Inc. 1997

Television commercial: Carl's Junior Restaurants: "Dr. 90210 " Carl's Junior Restaurant" dir. Morgan, Brett. Mendelsohn Zien, Advertising LLC. LA, California. 2006.

Internet: You Tube, LLC 2006 "Carl's Junior Restaurant, Dr 90210" http://www.youtube.com

Internet: You Tube, LLC "US Navy Seals Recruiting Ad" www.youtube.com
Posted by: kiquebobix

Internet: You Tube, LLC "US Army Recruiting Ad" "Army Strong, short version" www.youtube.com
Posted by: kiquebobix

Internet: Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command. 2000 Official U.S. Navy Seal web site

Internet: Kids Health, for parents. The Nemours Foundation, 1995-2008