Gianna is involved with a homeschool Co-op. The Co-op meets every Friday morning. At the end of the year, the Co-op has a “spotlight” night where the students show off their hard work from the semester. My daughter’s preschool class displayed, among other things, simple questionnaires (with answers). Below I’ve reproduced the answers that one child gave:
Did you know that 96% of school age children recognize Ronald McDonald? Only Santa Claus ranks higher.
I read Fast Food Nation back in January. One argument the author made, which I found very compelling, was that all T.V. ads aimed at children should be banned (not just fast food ads, but ALL ads). According to the author, a country in Europe has actually passed legislation banning such ads.
The argument is this–kids under the age of reason don’t understand the concept of an ad. Children take the information they see and process it as though it is fact. If a kid doesn’t understand that an ad is an ad, they make the perfect customer. Ripe for the picking, children are suckered into thinking they want all kinds of unhealthy things.
Obviously the parents then have the difficult job of saying “No, No, No” or, more importantly, turning off the television. But isn’t it at least mildy unethical that large companies spend loads of money convincing children under the age of 7 that they want and need various products?
And, guess who does the dirty job better than ANY other company, except maybe Disney–McDonald’s. McDonald’s has perfected marketing their products to children. In addition to Ronald McDonald, play lands abound, and those nifty little toys and dolls that come in the happy meals seal the deal. Some of the parents in my co-op, upon seeing the above student project, stated that they take their children to McDonald’s just to play. “You mean you don’t buy anything?” I asked curiously. “Well no,” they answered, “except a soda and some fries.”
****Update–one of our readers informed us that there is an organzation that wants to limit advertising aimed at children. Check out the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.