The power that advertising, and media more generally, wields has been and will continue to be an area of debate for years to come. Advertising is largely, particularly in the western world, an inescapable phenomena; from the moment we wake up to the time we sleep advertisements bombard us. Estimates of the amount advertisements people are exposed to on a daily basis ranges vastly from an arguably modest 200 to anywhere up-to around 3,000 messages per day.1
One of the main contentions regarding the issue is the argument to what degree, if at all, children can critically engage with advertising and whether or not it is ethical to allow corporate interests to try and change the perceptions and behavior of the young. There is undeniably a great deal of advertising on television currently which is aimed at children, promoting not only toys and sweets but also products such as food, drink, music, films and clothing to young consumers from toddlers to teenagers. Increasingly this practice is coming under attack from parents' organizations, politicians and pressure groups in many countries. The UK, Sweden, Ireland, Greece, Italy, Denmark and Belgium all currently impose national restrictions, and these have also been proposed in most other EU countries and in the USA. Within Europe, the EU Audiovisual Media Services Directive has been in place since the end of 2009 and places further restrictions on advertising to children, while also stressing the role of self-regulation among industry groups. Can advertising towards children be justified, is it ethical to shield them from a phenomena which is pervasive in global culture and is arguably something they need to learn about or should children be protected from advertising messages aimed at influencing their behavior for the benefit of business.
American Association of Advertising Agencies (2007) How Many Advertisments is a Person Exposed to in a Day? [online] [accessed 20th June 2011] Australian Association of National Advertisers (2009) AANA Code for Advertising & Marketing Communication to Children. [online] [accessed 20th June 2011] Bijmolt, T. et al (1998) Children's Understanding of TV Advertising: Effects of Age, Gender, and Parental Influence. Journal of Consumer Policy: Volume 21, Number 2, 171-194. : Egta. (2001), Advertising to children, [online] [accessed 27th July 2011] :O'Barr, W. (2008) Children and Advertising. Advertising and Society Review: Volume 9, Issue 4. Pine, K. and Nash, A. (2002) Dear Santa: The Effects of Television Advertising on Young Children. International Journal of Behavioral Development: Volume 26, Number 6, 529-539. : Quinn, R. (2002) Advertising and Children. [online] [accessed 20th June 2011] : Rouse, J. (2008) Fast Food Advertising to Children. [online] [accessed 20th June 2011] Royal College of Nursing (2010) Consultation on Product Placement on Television. [online] [accessed 20th June 2011] : Shah, A. (2010), Children as Consumers, globalissues.org, [online] [accessed 27th July 2011] : Smith, N (2010) Average Pocket Money Rate HitsLaw.jrank.org, Freedom of Speech – Commercial Speech. [Online] [accessed 27th July 2011]