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WHEN ADVERTISING INFLUENCES THE GROWTH OF CHILDREN

WHEN ADVERTISING INFLUENCES THE GROWTH OF CHILDREN

WHEN ADVERTISING INFLUENCES THE GROWTH OF CHILDREN

The massive presence of advertising in our daily lives meant that we came to consider it as a characterizing element of our life, something to adapt to without being able to react from an early age. So in a completely normal way we accept to be part of a space in which we are somewhat controlled in the choices with refined and wise techniques and methodologies that influence our purchases trying to persuade us in one direction or another: from snacks to means of movement, from food to the most useless elements leading us to think that what we do not have is absolutely necessary. We are “directed” every day by someone who goes around our rational defenses and our critical sense.

In Italy more than in other European countries there is a yielding attitude that leads us to underestimate the influence that advertising can have on children and adolescents, on the growth of their critical sense and ability to choose. In fact, in some European countries, advertising has been adequately scaled down in its spaces and its accesses to private spaces, as an example having it removed during children’s programs; in other countries toy spots have been banned. Italy is one of the countries in the top positions in the ranking of the number of commercials that commercial TV broadcasts during the day allowing advertising to enter forcefully and insidiously into the intimacy of our home.
Worldwide advertising agencies are extremely interesting to the continuous hammering that they put in place through ad hoc packaged spots to influence and seduce the minds especially of the youngest who do not yet have the ability, due to inexperience, to rebel against those subtle messages that push them into decisions what is important to have and what is necessary and what is not. Children are innocent victims of advertising thanks also to their remarkable capacity for assimilation; they become easy prey for commercials mainly because they find them inside the house, a familiar and safe environment.

The characteristics of the spots: truth, repetitiveness, simplification, incisiveness are very attractive for children and adolescents who have no interest in listening to a “long” message but are looking for short and immediate messages that quickly get to the point.
Advertising messages are perceived as different from TV programs already from 4-5 years even if they assume their persuasive power from 9-12 years and up. In this regard, it is also necessary to take into consideration the collateral messages of sports that not only concern the product advertised but can create false expectations in young people regarding aspects that are sometimes too sweetened and far from reality. They also have a lot of hold on them: charismatic testimonials, the presence of an animal (for the little ones), captivating images, protagonists of their age engaged in daily vicissitudes that undermine their critical sense by directing them wherever they want advertising and multinational trade .

The American sociologist Vance Packard already in the 1950s noted how advertisers pushed their works towards the influence of children who with their requests which then became whimsical were and are still able to convey the purchases not only of products dedicated to them but also products for adults. Even today many spots are designed to breach the little ones who in turn push the bigger ones to buy. It should also be added that children day after day influenced and hammered by commercials that all have the same vision of the world and human relationships conform to these messages and here and then they gradually influence an future social model.
The objectives of advertising today are to create in the population a basic dissatisfaction that can only be appeased until the next purchase and so on. It is no longer a question of providing information about the existence of a product but of pushing the user in any way to purchase that product. Through persuasion techniques, the public is influenced with pleasant or surprising messages that have little or nothing to do with the product itself but that often project on it what is most desired today: optimism, transgression, eroticism, virility, seductiveness, etc. Other messages are conveyed by advertising: one above all the apology of the consumer society and mass culture, becoming, in fact,

There are many techniques that advertisers put in place to manage purchases; for example identification and seduction. In fact, a product advertised or used by an important person takes on more interest and becomes more palatable only for its testimonial. It is the concept that underlies the garments and the objects that famous people wear or use (actors, sportsmen, etc.) that showing that object associated with their face favor their interest and therefore their sales. The mechanism is to create the illusion that by wearing that item of clothing or by using that object, one can gain the same beauty, notoriety, safety, sex appeal of those who advertise it without considering its reliability.

Affective amalgam is another technique that is the basis of advertising through which a product is made desirable by building messages around the product but not on the product, something that attracts, interests, gives security, arouses affiliation in the observer. The message can be of any type (even erotic) as long as it activates the viewer and remains in his head going to stimulate those right thoughts that come to confuse and merge with the product. The merger effect is also a mechanism well known to those who deal with advertising; another method that guides the decision-making power of the individual and does it by repeating more than once is the message that only because of being repeated acquires value and logic. So the simple appearance of the object over and over again perhaps accompanied by bright stimuli, bright colors, rhythmic and obsessive sounds favor adherence to that message. We accept that message out of exhaustion rather than a real interest in the object advertised and we are often led to think that it is legitimate to present it frequently. Finally with the cognitive manipulation that goes from false promises based on ambiguous sentences to truncated comparisons, to trap words; concepts such as: “biological well-being, green valley, white mill, the detergent that washes better” which have a strong hold on viewers because they condition them in their choices by channeling their ideas towards what advertisers want. We accept that message out of exhaustion rather than a real interest in the object advertised and we are often led to think that it is legitimate to present it frequently. Finally with the cognitive manipulation that goes from false promises based on ambiguous sentences to truncated comparisons, to trap words; concepts such as: “biological well-being, green valley, white mill, the detergent that washes better” which have a strong hold on viewers because they condition them in their choices by channeling their ideas towards what advertisers want. We accept that message out of exhaustion rather than a real interest in the object advertised and we are often led to think that it is legitimate to present it frequently. Finally with the cognitive manipulation that goes from false promises based on ambiguous sentences to truncated comparisons, to trap words; concepts such as: “biological well-being, green valley, white mill, the detergent that washes better” which have a strong hold on viewers because they condition them in their choices by channeling their ideas towards what advertisers want.

The numerous persuasion techniques used in advertising are not illegal but considered normal, very profitable and attempting to show their limits risks making them unpopular. Advertisers have remarkable abilities to give people what they need by stimulating their mind and ideas. However, it is the sense of responsibility that is questioned here, the idea of ​​having to submit to market logic rather than to the real needs of people and specifically of children and adolescents more easily influenced.
By acting in this way, a society devoted to consumerism and perennial dissatisfaction determined by the constant search for something they tell us must have to be important, complete, better, capable, etc. will be formed. The tendency towards conformism which does not favor the construction of an autonomous “inner space” capable of thinking, reflecting and becoming authentic, self-critical and self-directed is extremely reinforced.
From early childhood it would be useful to direct children towards growth based on knowledge and skills that allow them as young people and then as adults not to be exploited and actively enter social roles, a value necessary to promote freedom of expression.