March 18, 2011

Advertising Affects Children

Posted in Media at 5:50 am by brittanylschmidt

With an increased amount of advertising, due to a multitude of resources, girls are more influenced by media. Whether browsing the Internet, reading a magazine or watching Saturday morning cartoons, you are likely to be exposed to controversial and sexualized advertising.  The study Images of Female Children in TV Commercials’ indicates that in an hour of Saturday morning television there are 33 commercials.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), these ads have a negative affect on a girls’ self-image. Dr. Eileen L. Zurbriggen, APA Task Force Chair, said, “consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development.  We have ample evidence to conclude that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development.”

People have questioned why advertisement even uses such sexualized women in commercials and ads and the answer is simply sex sells.  Roy D’Silva of buzzle.com said,

“A major percentage of advertisements for condoms, sexual objects and to an extent personal effects like deodorants, perfumes tip toe on the thin line between intelligent advertising and controversial advertising.”

This can be seen in the new Axe body wash and body spray commercials.  The most recent commercial shows Victoria Secret-like models dressed as sexy angels who decide to leave heaven to be with a man who has just sprayed Axe on.  Axe commercials have been banned from television because of their persuasive sexual nature.

These commercials can make girls feel self-conscious about their bodies and cause a lack of self-esteem, which commonly leads to depression and eating disorders.

In Girl Talk, Kelsey, a 16-year-old girl said,  “They have ads of how you should dress and what you should look like and this and that, and then they say, ‘but respect people for what they choose to be like.’ Okay, so which do we do first?”  These statistics, paired with the opinions of young girls wanting to be thinner and prettier, can be easily linked to what girls are exposed to by the media.

As advertising continues to become more seductive and sexual, anthropologist David Murray worries, “Our culture is to a large extent experimenting with eroticizing the child.”

Large companies are unlikely to tone down the sexuality in their advertisements, so other steps must be taken in other aspects of media to positively influence the youth of America.  Sociologist, Dr. Chineze J. Onyejekwe, said,

“Formulating and applying ethical codes for the communications media and for advertising might go a long way in promoting respect and common good.  However, confronting the negative effects of the new media on women requires focusing on the entire spectrum of media representations that limit, demean or degrade women.”

If the content broadcasted or printed is regulated, there is a good chance the media will start to encourage American teens to love their bodies.

If the advertising agencies don’t try to redirect the focus of their advertisements and make them more girl friendly, there will need to be additional resources that girls can look to for inspiration and role models.  “Schools should teach media literacy skills to all students and should include information on the negative effects of the sexualization of girls in media literacy and sex education programs,” said the American Psychological Association, according to Stefan Anitei.

“As a society, we need to replace all of these sexualized images with ones showing girls in positive settings-ones that show the uniqueness and competence of girls. The goal should be to deliver messages to all adolescents-boys and girls-that lead to healthy sexual development.”

If children were taught about the affects of advertisements and how unrealistic they can be, they would develop a tolerance and be able to decide what is real and what is fake.  Specifically in the media, younger girls don’t understand pictures of models are manipulated to make them look skinnier or prettier, making them think they should look that way.  If children were exposed to these advertising schemes in advance, they would not be as influenced or manipulated by them.  It is important for advertising companies in the media world to have a deep interest in the children of America because these children are going to become the faces of their advertising firms and C.E.O.’s of their profitable corporations.  Hopefully these companies want confident, healthy and well-rounded individuals to fill these positions.

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