Advertising to Children on TV: Content, Impact, and Regulation

By Barrie Gunter; Caroline Oates et al. | Go to book overview

8
The Incidental Influence
of Advertising

Much of the research into television advertising has concentrated on the intended effects of commercial messages. Advertising is designed to promote awareness of commodities, enhance their appeal, and ultimately to encourage their purchase and use. Commercial messages are therefore produced with persuasive appeals that are aimed at creating markets for advertised products and services and maintaining consumer loyalty. But advertising contains information that may have unintended side effects, and exposure to advertising may have social and psychological effects that are not part of the selling intent.

We have already seen that the effects of advertising can be divided into those that occur at behavioral, attitudinal, and other cognitive levels. The unintentional effects of advertising may also occur at these levels. Advertisements may influence children's perceptions of other people, their perceptions of themselves, or influence behaviors that may be potentially harmful to them. They may also contribute to a value system that emphasizes material wealth and conspicuous ownership of commodities.

Parents and child-care professionals have found that advertising has the power to make a significant impression on children. This influence does not simply take the form of mimicking the behaviors of on-screen characters or repeating jingles or taglines in advertisements, it can take on more subtle forms that may have longer-term effects. For example, parents have noted the influence of media role models connected with television advertising

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