Survey: Most Americans Believe Advertising to Children is Unethical and Advertisers Should Stop Marketing to Kids Under 8 Years Old
Nov 17, 2020, 08:38 ET
LAS VEGAS, Nov. 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Child-targeted advertising is a multibillion-dollar endeavor, with $4.2 billion spent marketing to kids in the US in 2018.1 The American Psychological Association, along with other researchers and legal scholars, have indicated that advertising to young children is unfair and misleading.2,3 That's because children under age 8 have not yet developed the cognitive ability to understand that advertising is persuasive and biased, so they take ads at face value.3–5
For those reasons, the National Financial Educators Council conducted a survey – the Advertising to Kids survey – to reach a better understanding of how Americans feel about marketing to young children. From November 5th to 9th 2020, 3,002 citizens around the US were asked three questions: whether they thought companies should advertise to kids under 8; whether they thought junk food companies should market to kids under 8; and whether they believed marketing to young kids was unethical.
Survey participants overwhelmingly believed that companies should not advertise to children under 8 years old. When asked "Should companies advertise to kids younger than 8 years old?" - 80.2% of respondents answered, "Definitely No" or "No".
And data from the question regarding the ethics of marketing to young kids indicated an even stronger belief, with 57.8% of participants responding "Definitely Yes" or "Yes" to the question, "Is advertising to kids younger than 8 years old unethical?"
See full data at: https://www.financialeducatorscouncil.org/advertising-to-kids-survey/
As CEO of the NFEC Vince Shorb states, "Financial habits form at a young age. From the time kids are born they are bombarded with highly-sophisticated advertising messages that shape their financial behaviors and self-esteem. This early breeding of consumerist behaviors can spell disaster to their finances as they mature."
The NFEC sees the impact of advertising among financial coaching and financial education clients. This prompted their Stop Predatory Advertising to Kids campaign and development of new resources to help parents teach their children about evaluating advertisements.
To date, the advertising industry in the US has been subject to no policy beyond self-regulation, such as the 2006 Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI).5 But such self-regulation has proven weak and ineffective.3,4 And preschoolers continue to be exposed to ads even from the 18 companies participating in the CFBAI.5
"The self-regulation of ads to kids has not worked," says Shorb. "Advertisers spend billions annually targeting children with ads designed by highly-skilled marketers that unconsciously shape kids' financial behaviors before they can understand the intent of advertisers. Predatory advertising must be stopped – if self-regulation doesn't work, it's time for the government to step in and protect our children," he added.
The National Financial Educators Council's goal in conducting these surveys is to gain knowledge about factors that can affect children's financial health as they mature. The organization is committed to supporting people to develop personal finance skill sets that move them toward greater wellness through financial education and personal financial coaching.
1Guttman A. Spending on advertising to children worldwide from 2012 to 2021, by format [Internet]. New York: Statista; 2020 Apr [cited 2020 Oct 29]. https://www.statista.com/statistics/750865/kids-advertising-spending-worldwide/
2Radesky J, Reid Chassiakos Y, Ameenuddin N, Navsaria D. Digital advertising to children. Pediatrics. 2020;146(1):e20201681.
3Wilcox BL, Kunkel D, Cantor J, Dowrick P, Linn S, Palmer E. Report of the APA Task Force on Advertising and Children. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; 2004.
4Lapierre MA, Fleming-Milici F, Rozendaal E, McAlister AR, Castonguay J. The effect of advertising on children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2017;140(s2):e20161758.
5Harris JL, Kalnova SS. Food and beverage TV advertising to young children: Measuring exposure and potential impact. Appetite. 2017;123:49–55.
SOURCE National Financial Educators Council
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