Should TV commercials aimed at children be banned?

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 03 April, 2012, 12:00am


Matthew Murchie, 18, Imperial College London

I certainly sympathise with people who criticise television commercials aimed at children.

Many advertisements try to manipulate children into pursuading their parents to buy certain products. Advertisers take advantage of children's immaturity and innocence as well as their strong influence on their parents.

I believe, as many do, this is unethical.

Yet I disagree with banning all ads aimed at children. Before we decide to impose such a blanket ban, we have to consider some factors.

Most importantly, it is the parents' responsibility to make sure children are not led astray by unscrupulous marketing. The media has no role in this.

As with other areas in children's upbringing, it is the parents who should teach a child right from wrong and how to behave when faced with different situations.

While that may not always be easy, it is much more preferable than simply removing all advertisements aimed at children.

Trying to shield a youngster from all forms of advertising is an inefficient and, most likely, a wasted endeavour.

These days, children are exposed to many forms of advertising.

Merely banning television ads would not solve the problem.

Besides, it would be difficult to enact such a ban.

How can we decide that an ad is aimed exclusively at youngsters? Should that be determined by its time slot, content, or style? An ad's target audience can be very broad.

In short, although I dislike manipulative advertisements, I do not support a ban on them.

Vanessa Wong Man-chi, 16, Diocesan Girls' School

I agree that there should be a ban on television advertisements aimed at children.

The effect of manipulative advertisements can be particularly serious on children if they are frequently exposed to them.

First, TV ads often misrepresent the benefits of the products they promote.

They routinely remind consumers that they actually 'must have' a certain product.

Children are especially vulnerable to such manipulation, as they lack mature judgment.

Commercials bombard them from a young age about the need for material goods. They develop in children a mentality that happiness means owning expensive things.

Also, several products being advertised can actually be harmful to children's education and health.

Things like video games, junk food and expensive toys can have negative effects on children's development and behaviour.

Lastly, children exposed to TV commercials may also develop personality problems.

When children are being primed for a lifestyle of consumerism, they may become unreasonable and demanding.

They could end up pestering their parents to buy various products. This can increase financial pressures on low-income families.

If parents refuse, children may become disgruntled. They may also suffer from low self-esteem because they are not able to afford the expensive gadgets or toys their peers have.

For the sake of children's health and social development, we should definitely consider imposing a ban on television commercials aimed at youngsters.