Young people, especially girls, are bombarded from an early age with ads and images in movies, magazines and on the television showcasing society’s ideal body image and therefore presenting the importance of physical attractiveness. A study from 1996 looked at three weeks of Saturday morning cartoons and found that half of all ads directed towards girls had some mention of physical attractiveness (“How Does Today’s Advertising Impact on Your Body Image”). How are young people, specifically females, supposed to deal with the pressures to fit these ideals? Girls are becoming extremely body conscious at an alarmingly young age; one study suggests that 42% of girls in grades one to three want to be thinner (“Eating Disorders”), while another study showed that by age ten, over 80% of girls are afraid of being fat (“Eating Disorders”). The pressures of looking a certain way have serious unpleasant consequences on adolescent’s mental and physical health, including anxiety and depression, with 5% of boys and 12% of girls ages 12-19 going through a major depressive episode. (“Fast Facts about Mental Illness”)
Advertising has such a large impact on children because under the age of eight they are unable to recognize the biased intent of advertising (Dittman) and therefore are mo...
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...f it by making doing drugs seem normal and inconsequential. Time spent viewing media has a direct relationship to the likelihood of youth drinking and smoking; children who watch an hour more of television a day have a nine percent average increase of starting to consume alcohol within the next 18 months, and exposer to tobacco marketing increases positive attitudes towards smoking and over doubles the chances of them starting to smoke. (“Media and Adolescence Substance Abuse”).
It is clear that advertising has a largely negative impact on children, from instigating body issues, and forcing consumerism to the glorification of unhealthy products and habits such as drugs and alcohol, it’s astounding that children can even function in our society today. Marketing to children is something that should be much more regulated to protect children and their fragile minds.
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