What advertisements are doing to our children

Published: December 21, 2010

Both girls and boys are highly objectified in the modern advertisement business.

“Bubloo tumhara sabun slow hei kia?” chants an arrogant, animated girl character in a liquid soap ad, teasing the poor boy who has been silly enough to not know that soap bars are useless compared to liquid soap.

Such is the shallowness being imparted on  children during their formative years through advertising. They develop a narcissistic attitude towards what they see as  “me and my things.”

As ad filmmakers are formulating the most effective ways of enticing consumers to buy their products, they have found children are good targets. Younger minds are easy to manipulate and are seen as long-term potential buyers. The idea is to worm a brand’s way into a child’s life as early as possible. But while they may sell products, another question emerges: what values are being promoted for the future generation?

Spoiling our children

Children tend to misinterpret messages conveyed through advertisements. Glossy images in magazines, on billboards or on flashy advertisements on television only create the urge for impulse buying. Children view a certain lifestyle and lose the ability to live life without relying on materialistic joy. A child may prefer only a specific brand of jeans as compared to other clothing available in stores. The desire to live the TV lifestyle may lead to requests that parents are unable to fulfill.

If they don’t have an endless array of new products some children may become convinced that they are inferior to others.

Ads make false promises

In addition to inculcating materialistic values, commercials deceive and manipulate children on a massive scale. The false promises of popularity, success, and attractiveness that marketers routinely make for their products are such common lies that adults have become inured to their dishonesty.

Both girls and boys are highly objectified in the modern advertisement business. Boys are projected as “tough and strong” while girls are “sexy and pretty”. Thus, stereotypical roles are portrayed before them as the epitome of perfection, discouraging originality and creativity.

Given the unprecedented volume of commercials to which children are exposed today, along with their increasing sophistication, we need to consider the cumulative impact of ads.

I feel modern advertising  harms children emotionally. The present day wholesale commercialisation of childhood, calls for an urgent inquiry into the ethics of children’s marketing and its impact on the health and well-being of kids.


Nazish Zafar

Senior Associate Producer programming at Express News.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.