Press-Republican

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June 9, 2013

Ads targeting children may have impact

PLATTSBURGH ― Some parents are concerned about the messages their children receive from marketers.

Advertising targeted toward children has been blamed for issues such as rising obesity rates, low self-esteem and materialism over the years.

Cheryl Kabeli of Plattsburgh is a nurse practitioner and mother of 6-year-old Sophie Kabeli. Kabeli sees the effect of advertising on her daughter and tries to monitor the amount she is exposed to. 

“Everything she sees, she wants it,” Kabeli said. “Dolls, Stompeez Slippers. She doesn’t wear slippers; I don’t know why she wants them.”

Kabeli notices that fast-food commercials also grab her daughter’s attention. 

“If they advertise a toy, she wants to go there to get the toy,” Kabeli said. 

Commercial-free shows are preferred during the hour of television that Sophie is allowed each day. Often, the family tapes shows with a digital video recorder in order to fast-forward through the commercials, Kabeli said.

“She’s rationalizing to me why she should have this item, and she’s 6 years old,” she said. 

Kabeli said parents feel guilty about working a lot and think they can make up for it by buying materialistic things for their child.

“I don’t want her to be a materialistic child. I want her to appreciate the things she does get,” she said. “I don’t want her to feel she’s entitled to these things.”

IMPACTS ON CHILDREN

Lise Heroux, a marketing and entrepreneurship professor who teaches an advertising class at SUNY Plattsburgh, researched the effect of advertising on children as a graduate student at McGill University in Montreal about 25 years ago. 

“Some of the research I did had to do with the impact of advertising on children’s values,” Heroux said. “It was clearly demonstrated in the research that it did have an impact on the children and their values.”

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