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Children Interacting With Television Advertising Introduction

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Children Interacting with Television Advertising Introduction The following research has sought to understand the influence of television on children over the past twenty years using a variety of social models, from public policy and industry self-regulation, to how children receive and process media messages and the parental responsibility in monitoring what is acceptable for children to view. As a baseline, our research used a model of children interacting with television. We expounded on this model in an effort to seek current data and information that affects children today. Our group divided this model into the following categories: * Decision to View Television *Public Policy Makers *Consumer Protectionists *Industry Self-Regulation *Television Advertising Message *Receiving and Processing Message *Cognitions *Behaviors *Parents After analyzing this model, we conducted our own research to study current trends and determine whether childrens' behavior has changed significantly in the past 20 years. Our empirical research includes studies in contemporary advertising techniques, changes in children's television viewing preferences, and the relationship to childhood development. Each category explains a different element of the process of how children interpret and act upon the medias influence. The Decision to View Television and Parental Influence Today, children in the United States watch an average of 3 to 5 hours of television every day, and up to an average of 24 hours of television a week. Did you know that on average, children will see 576 or more commercials each week? Children's programming devotes up to 12 hours to advertising a week. Research has demonstrated that the effect of television viewing on children leads to a number of possible problems. Television affects social and emotional behavior, creativity and language skills, and school achievement. There is an organization out there in support of children and parents who are concerned with the way television is being viewed. The name of this organization is CARU, Children's Advertising Review Unit, and it is an industry supported self-regulatory system of the children's advertising industry. "CARU works with the industry to ensure that advertising directed to kids is truthful, and above all fair." (Better Business Bureau) The purpose of CARU is to maintain a balance between controlling the message children receive from advertising, and promoting the important information to children through advertising. Another organization working towards controlling advertising towards children is the "Children's Television Act of 1990 who limited advertising on children's programs to 10.5 minutes per hour on weekends and 12 minutes per hour on weekdays." (famailyeducation.com) Food advertising makes up the largest category of advertisements directed towards children. Breakfast cereals and fast food restaurants account for over half of all food advertisements aimed at children. In the United States less than one percent of advertisements were for healthier foods such as fruit and vegetables. There are three advertising methods, which are the most popular with advertisers. The first form of advertising is called premiums and has been around since Dick Tracy decoder rings and Little Orphan Annie stickers, over 50 years. The problem with this form of advertising is that children have difficulty telling the difference between the actual product and the premium, or in other words, the prize. The second popular form of advertising to children is through sweepstakes. Children find this very exciting, and in turn this raises children's expectations of their chances of winning a prize. Most young children have trouble realizing that not every child wins and so sweepstakes usually require some form of parent involvement. The last form of advertisements that is geared toward children is what we call "Kids Clubs". For an advertiser to use the word "club" a few requirements need to be met. Interactivity needs to be met which means that a child should perform some kind of an action to join the club, and in return receives a reward, membership to the club. Also continuity needs to be performed, this is an ongoing relationship between the club members either through a newsletter or some other interaction with the members. Parents can guide their children's television viewing in many ways. First, parents should set limits to the amount of TV a child should watch in a given day. Because television watching is often habit, 1 to 2 hours a day should be enough. An easy way to accomplish this would be to set a few basic rules, such as no television during meals, or before completing homework. Second, help plan a child's television viewing with the child. Sit down with a newspaper listing of shows and plan the television schedule for the week. Third, to know what a child is watching on the television means that a parent needs to participate. By watching television with a child and then talking about what was watched will give the parent greater control of what kinds of programs are watched in the home. Monitoring the programs that a child watches is the fourth rule for parents. Encourage children to watch programs about characters that cooperate and care for each other. The fifth rule is to analyze commercials. "Children need help to critically evaluate the validity of the many products advertised on television." (accesseric.org) The last rule is to express your views. Call your local television station if you are not happy with what is being shown. Stations, networks, and sponsors are all concerned about the effects of television viewing on children, and are willing to listen to parents concerns. Public Policy and Consumer Protectionism Children's advertising is mainly governed by CARU, the Children's Advertising Review Board, which is part of the Better Business Bureau. The board reviews advertising that is directed towards children in all forms of media and seek change through voluntary and self-regulating cooperation of advertisers. CARU's seeks to find misleading, inaccurate or inconsistent advertising under the Self Regulatory Guidelines for Children's Advertising. The Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus was established in 1974 by the National Advertising Review Council (NARC) to promote responsible children's advertising and to respond to public concerns. Its Board of Directors comprises key executives from the CBBB, the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), the American Advertising Federation (AAF) and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA). The NARC Board sets policy for CARU's self-regulatory program, which is administered by the CBBB and is funded directly by members of the children's advertising industry. CARU's

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