Controversial Television Advertising and its Effects on Children and Teenagers When you hear sexual content, racial stereotyping, violence, women displayed as sex objects, and drinking, you may think it is your typical R rated movie, right? Wrong. Try the typical television commercial. Television advertising with positive messages can influence children and teenagers to make better decisions and positive behavioral changes. The same can be true when they view negative messages. This too, can influence children and teenagers, for the worse. The impact television advertising has on our youth shapes the way they behave and see the world. Is this the way you want the youth of today to see the world? Do you want them mimicking the negative things they see on television? Advertising that promotes and glamorizes sex, violence, alcohol, and gender/racial stereotyping should be banned in its entirety due to the negative effects it has on the minds, attitudes, and behavior of children and teenagers.
Since most of us were children we have been taught that repetition is the best way to learn new information. Charles T. Dudley, Pastor of New Beginnings Ministry of Faith, Havelock, NC stated “repetition is a key element in the learning process. It is repeated hearing [or seeing] until a level of understanding takes place” (personal communication, January 21, 2007). Children and teenagers in the course of a day spend more time watch television than anything else, next to sleeping. For children, watching television is full time job. They put in roughly 40 hours per week just sitting in front of the television (Linn, 2006). By the age of 20, these children who watch television regularly can be exposed to 600,000 commercials (Black, as cited in Larson, 2003) that display in detail and glamorize the things that most parents try their best to keep their children away from. If children and teenagers are seeing the same violence, sex, and alcohol use/abuse repeatedly in television advertising, they will learn it and they will put this information into practice when the opportunity presents itself.
Alcohol is shown on television more than most other beverages and almost never in a negative light. Alcohol advertisements and television shows that contain alcohol use repeatedly show drinking as fun and exciting and the people drinking are always happier and seem to have everything they want in life when they drink (University of Michigan Health System, 2006). These images have serious effects on the youth that see then over and over. These portrayals tell them that if they are missing something in their lives, if they are not completely happy, alcohol will fix the problem, whatever it is. The sad reality is that children and teenagers believe the portrayals. The statistics on underage drinking are utterly staggering. Studies show that children as young as 12 are drinking alcohol on a regular basis (McCarthy, 2000). Children and teenagers tend to drink thinking that they will be like the people in the ads. Underage drinking is not a minor issue. Underage alcohol usage has killed many “in the three leading causes of death among young people: unintentional injuries-including motor vehicle deaths and drownings-suicides, and homicides” (O’Hara & Jernigan, 2003). Underage drinking has also shown to be a factor in a large number of sexual assaults and date rapes of teens and college students (National Institute on Media and the Family, 2002). Alcohol advertisers target children and teenagers with catchy slogans and animated characters to create label loyalty early. The more children and teenagers like a particular brand’s commercials; the sooner and more likely they are to want to consume it. If this targeting of youth would be stopped, there would most likely be a drastic decrease in the number of underage drinkers, which would cause a drastic decrease in the unnecessary deaths of so many young people. Alcohol advertisers are not...
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