Advertising to Children

In: Social Issues

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Should We Restrict Marketing to Children?
Kelli Zimmerman-Klemp
November 25, 2013
Ethics and Decisions

Should We Restrict Marketing to Children? This issue of whether or not advertising aimed at children should be restricted is a strange one to me. When presented with the issue, my first thought was, “Assuming, of course, that the advertising is truthful (which, if it’s not, is a problem unrelated to whom its target audience is), why would we need to restrict advertising to children?” Thinking about it a bit, I was unable to think of a reason why it would be wrong to market to kids. Picking up Taking Sides Clashing Views in Business Ethics and Society (Newton, Englehardt, & Pritchard), I was eager to learn why such advertising might be harmful, and thus, unethical, for children. In reading the introduction to the debate, I was reminded that “children do not have the fully developed cognitive skills necessary for making…an informed decision” (Newton et al., p. 256). I had a feeling this last sentence would play a role in the argument against marketing to children.
Stop the Presses I began with Stephanie Clifford’s 2010 article from The New York Times, “A Fine Line When Ads and Children Mix” (Newton et al., p.258). Clifford specifically addresses advertising in magazines aimed at children. The Children’s Advertising Review Unit, an arm of the Council of Better Business Bureaus set up by the National Advertising Review Counsel (, has been set up to review child-centric advertising and bring its concerns to each publisher and advertiser. Clifford notes that the attention given to such marketing has forced publishers to limit traditional advertising in magazines and use less direct means of advertising, such as, “running games, contests and events where the advertiser has only a subtle presence” (Newton et al., p.258). Many…...

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