TV ads stress children
Children are getting stressed and depressed by
marketing that grooms them for a lifetime of
consumerism, new research says.
The study says marketing and commercialisation is
putting pressure on children to keep up with images of
how they should look and what they should own.
New Zealand psychologists say the report, by
British-based social issues think-tank Compass, backs
research that shows overexposure to television can cause
problems for children.
Compass researcher Zoe Williams said the impact of
commercialisation on children should not be ignored.
"Bombarded with images of how they should look and
what they should own, children struggle to keep up,
suffering from stress, anxiety, increasingly lower
satisfaction with themselves and their lives, and poorer
relationships with others," she said.
"Girls are being sold lacy underwear even before they
reach their teenage years."
Williams said the question had to be asked: who was
"forming our children?" The report said
commercialisation could hurt children's health through
the aggressive marketing of junk food.
Child development could also be affected by new toys
that did not push children to learn for themselves, it
Child psychologist Sarah Chatwin, of Auckland, said
the report's findings were in keeping with some of the
children she dealt with who suffered from stress and
The British study matched recent New Zealand
However, Chatwin said it was dangerous to make broad
generalisations on the impact of commercialisation and
marketing on children.
Some companies used psychologists to ensure their
advertising did not cause problems for children.
"I have more of a problem with the hard-sell
advertising using nasty or subliminal messages," she
It was difficult to measure whether children's
behavioural problems were the result of overexposure to
television and commercialisation or bad parenting.
Chatwin said some products and advertisements broke
down the barriers between the adult and child worlds too
soon. These could include products targeted at young
girls, which included items such as lacy underwear.
"That type of marketing is what I am more concerned
about. Some children are older and bolder before their
time," she said. Chatwin said children did not have the
cognition to deal with that kind of "stuff".
Otago University researchers recently found that when
weekends and holidays were taken into account, some New
Zealand children could spend more time in front of the
television than they did in the classroom.