Advertisements’ effects on children

Advertisements’ effects on children

Having discussed the nature of advertising to children, and their understanding of these commercials, it becomes obvious that these promotions have certain effects on children. In this section, the light will be shaded on some of these commercials’ effects including pestering and conflicts obesity. 

1. Pestering and conflict 

Children exposed to advertisements develop an awareness of things they want to possess. However, lacking the economic independence to purchase for themselves, they turn to pestering their parents to buy these items on their behalf. When parent refuse to grant a child’s purchase request, family conflicts often occur.

Four studies that investigated the relationship between advertising exposure and purchase requests show, without exception, that advertising exposure is positively related to children’s purchase requests (Galst & White, 1976: pp. 1089-1096). This means that advertising aimed at children, with its misleading techniques, is designed to encourage children to make as much as possible of purchase requests as a way of getting the desired advertised product.

Other studies pointed out that children’s requests for advertised products can lead to conflicts, and this has been observed in several countries, including Britain, Japan, and the United States (Robertson, Ward, Gatignon, & Klees, 1989: pp 459-485. However, Robertson (1979: pp. 12-25) found that advertising is not the only factor that links to parental pestering behavior and that children’s integration with their peer group is also included. According to Robertson children who were exposed to greater amounts of advertising and who were poorly integrated with their peers made the greatest number of purchase requests to their parents.

2. Eating disorder and overweight

Cereals, candies, and fast food tend to be the ones that children often pester their parents to buy for them, and this has raised concerns that food advertisements are to blame for children’s eating disorders and overweight. The number of food advertisements such as frozen dinner, which is in high sugar, fat, and sodium, has increased in the period between 1970 and 1990. And during this same period, the rate of obesity in children has more than tripled, rising from roughly 4% to roughly 15%.  Studies have found a relationship between this increase in ads for unhealthy foods and obesity in children (K.B. Horgan, et al. 2001: pp. 447-62).

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These studies show the relation between unhealthy food advertisements and the increase of obesity among children. Farther more, this may suggest that these ads may lead healthy children to develop unhealthy eating habits and therefore become overweight and already overweight children to further weight problems.

Though there are some commercials for healthy food directed to children, the influence of junk food ads seems to be stronger than the influence of healthy food ads (Ramsey, William A, 2006). which may explain children’s great preference of particular candies, sodas, or fast-food restaurants, over more healthful foods.

Again studies have found that commercials not only influence children to eat more of the foods that they do not need but also cause them to eat less of the foods that they do need, causing them eating disorders. A study was done on two groups of children, in which one group was exposed to fruit, and fruit juice advertisements, while the other group was exposed to candy and fast-food commercials, showed a significant relationship between promotions that children are exposed to and their food and drink choice (Ramsey, William A, 2006).

Moreover, another study indicated that viewing ads for unhealthy foods may lead children to eat fewer fruits and vegetables (Ramsey, William A, 2006). The increase of obesity and eating disorders, caused by advertisements among children is a serious issue that should be ignored neither by the government nor by parents.

Advertisements’ effects on children


  • Galst, J., & White, M. (1976). The unhealthy persuader: The reinforcing value of television and children’s purchase—influencing attempts at the supermarket. Child Development, 47, 1089 – 1096.
  • Robertson, T. S. (1979). Parental mediation of television advertising effects. Journal of Communication, 29, 12-25.
  • Ramsey, William A. (2006) “Rethinking Regulation of Advertising Aimed at Children,” Federal Communications Law Journal: Vol. 58: Iss. 2, Article 6.  Retrieved (MAY, 2018 ) from
  • K.B. Horgan, et al., Television Food Advertising: Targeting Children in a Toxic Environment, in THE HANDBOOK OF CHILDREN AND MEDIA 447-62 (D.G. Singer & J.L. Singer eds., 2001); R.P.Toriano & K.M. Flegal, Overweight Children, and Adolescents: Description, Epidemiology, and Demographics, PEDIATRICS, 101, 497 (1998)).

Advertisements’ effects on children

One thought on “Advertisements’ effects on children

  1. Unknown says:

    Informative content.
    I have conducted a research paper that talk about advertising.
    I wonder about thought after I read this post I got some idea
    Thank you

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