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Controversial Television Advertising

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Controversial Television Advertising

Controversial Television Advertising

Over the years, there has been hundreds upon hundreds of arguments about television advertising. These controversial subjects include areas such as: child obesity, drugs, violence, and sexual explicit content. All of these are issues in America because children are affected by each subject. Would anyone want their child to see a commercial about condoms or marijuana? What about losing interest in physical activities or being mean to others? No one wants a child to grow up in a society full of hate and an appetite of fast food. Throughout this reading will be facts and effects that child obesity, drugs, violence, and sexual content have on children.

Child obesity is one of the biggest controversial issues in America because there are tons of fast food restaurants around every corner. "One-fourth of children in America spend four or more hours watching television daily and only 27% of students in grades 9 through 12 engage in moderate physical activity at least 30 minutes a day on five or more days of the week," stated the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lifestyle behaviors are one major factor leading to obesity in children and adults, according to the CDC. Inside a bedroom of the 21st century child is a range of multimedia objects. More than half (57%) of children 9-13 years old, have a TV, video game equipment, a VCR, or a computer in their rooms (Kaufman. 2003). Stating, 26% of U.S. children watch four or more hours of television per day and 67% of U.S. children watch two or more hours of television per day. In other words, a child spends at least 2,000 minutes watching television and sees about 20,000 advertisements. 95% of advertisements seen are fast food, soft drinks, sugary cereals, and salty snacks.

Food and beverage companies use ads to entice children into eating massive amounts of unhealthy food which leads to an increase in childhood obesity, according to a national advisory panel. The Institute of Medicine called on food and beverage companies and restaurants to make more healthful products and shift their advertising emphasis to promote them (Mayer. 2005). Congress was also called on by the institute to enhance nutritional standards and create incentives to help encourage companies and their advertisements to promote healthy products instead of junk food. A marketing professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business brought up three reasons that television advertising food products affects a child's diet. Ruth Bolton (1983) stated, "Children's exposure to television food advertisements influence their diets in three separate ways. First, it significantly increases the number of their snacks; second, the additional snacks increase their calorie intake; and third, it significantly decreases their nutrient efficiency." Therefore, a study developed by Bolton, found that calories took in by children exposed to 25 additional minutes of food advertising per week was 1.39% higher than children who were not exposed to the additional 25 minutes of advertising. Bolton explains, "After controlling for parental influence, we found a statistically significant effect on snacking frequency and therefore on calorie intake and nutrient deficiency. We were able to trace these effects in a detailed way to food commercials." Children ages 2-11 are susceptible to advertising that encourages then to make poor nutritional choices according to a study requested by Congress and releases by the Institute of Medicine in December 2005. "A 2004 report from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation analyzed 20 years of research on the role of media in childhood obesity and found that "the main mechanism by which media use contributes to the child obesity may well be through children's exposure to billions of dollars worth of food advertising year after year, starting at the youngest ages ("Global Fattening")."

Food advertising is not the only cause of child obesity. Parents are to blame as well. Children's parents are the ones who purchase the food. Children see commercials with cartoon characters on boxes and ask their parents time and time again for the product. Such cartoon characters like SpongeBob Square Pants and Scooby-Doo are put on cereal boxes and ice cream boxes. "Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to the messages conveyed through television which influence their perceptions and behaviors. Many younger children cannot discriminate between what they see and what is real. Research has shown primary negative health effects on violence and aggressive behaviors; sexuality; academic performance; body concept and self-image; nutrition, dieting, and obesity; and substance use and abuse patterns," issued from a position paper in February 2001 by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Pediatricians were presented by some moderate guidelines to give to parents by the APA:

Parents should limit children's total media time (with entertainment media) to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming per day. Televisions should be removed from children's bedrooms. Parents should also try to discourage television viewing for children younger than two years old and encourage more interactive activities that will promote proper brain development such as talking, playing, singing, and reading together.

Monitor the shows children and adolescents are viewing. Most programs should be informational, educational, and nonviolent. Always view television programs along with children and discuss the content afterwards. Two recent surveys involving a total of nearly 1500 parents found that less than half of parents reported watching television with their children. Use controversial programming as a stepping-off point to initiate discussions about family values, violence, sex and sexuality, and drugs.

Parents can also use the videocassette recorder wisely to show high-quality, educational programming for children. Always support efforts to establish comprehensive media-education programs in school. Encourage alternative entertainment for children, including reading, athletics, hobbies, and creative plays (Pediatrics. Volume 107, Number 2. February 2001. Pp 423-426).

Not all controversy is based on food advertisements. Another controversial issue is the media war on marijuana. America has changed the outlook of narcotics in society. People believe that marijuana is the gate-way drug which leads into the usage of other drugs that are worse. Aimed towards adolescents, the government has waged public relations campaigns to inform everyone about the harms of using marijuana. There are propaganda



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