UK: tightening the controls on the TV advertising of food to children
Your response is very typical, and parental supervision is very important in raising children. But would you say the same thing if someone wanted to advertise pornography, cigarettes, or alcohol to young people? What would your response be to dancing clowns drinking Budweiser in commercials during Saturday morning cartoons?
As a society, we have long understood that we have a common responsibility for our young people. We realize that parents alone are not enough to educate their kids, for example, so we have public schools. But we need to also recognize that kids today learn as much or more from TV as from school.
We also need to recognize that children are not discerning and informed consumers. Their intellectual faculties are not fully developed. They are especially susceptible to the images and messages conveyed by TV. Why do we allow advertisers to influence children? Why do we allow them to promote self-destructive behavior patterns in our kids? Should a child be punished because her or his parent or parents are not good at saying NO or perhaps not properly informed themselves about the dangers of obesity and diabetes? Even if their parents are able to withstand constant child pressure, the patterns of thought instilled by the commercials won't go away when the children are beyond adult supervision.
What is especially sad is that the foods promoted on TV are usually unhealthy, mass produced, manufactured products. Children grow up thinking that McDonald's is good food, that soda pop is a great beverage, that candy bars and corn chips are fun and tasty, etc. Even if mom & dad constantly supervise their children, these images and instilled feelings are permanently part of their memories. If these commercials didn't work, if they didn't lead children to drink Dr Pepper or demand Happy Meals (?), then they wouldn't be shown. In other words, if these commercials did not in fact lead to these unhealthy behaviors, advertisers wouldn't waste their money showing them during child oriented programming.