People are exposed to the internet at a very young age. Members of Generation Z grew up in a world where smartphones and social media apps are prevalent and integral to their everyday lives. They spend hours staring at a screen, watching videos, listening to music, reading text, playing video games, etc.
At some point, they will encounter an advertisement.
Ads are inevitable on the internet and there is no way to control what children see when they go online. Ads may be present in the video they watch or the image they view as sponsored content or a commercial in between leveling up in games.
Children are very impressionable. They may want to copy anything that they see online. So, when an influencer they like promotes something, they would want to buy it and have it, too.
Advertising is harmful to children. It teaches people, from an early age, to consume various products that may not be healthy for them.
However, businesses catering to kids still have to market their goods. Is it possible to market toward young consumers without doing any harm to their growth and development?
Teach Children to Become Informed Consumers
One day, these children will grow up and have the capacity to make purchases on their own with the money they earned. As early as now, they can be taught to be mindful of how they spend.
Businesses can do this by pushing educational toys for kids, not merchandise that they would not need nor will be beneficial to them.
Ads persuade the public to consume endlessly, to collect items around the house that will never be used or will only be used a couple of times before it breaks. Adults are already grappling with a tendency to purchase based on emotions, leading them to impulsively rather than spend the time thinking about whether the expense is necessary or not. Children still have a chance to grow up and develop into informed consumers.
Informative Rather Than Deceit
Ads are not inherently bad. They allow consumers to find the exact products that they need and enable a business to make a profit. However, most ads nowadays can be considered deceitful. They make claims that, often, are inaccurate or downright untrue. They appeal to the viewer’s emotions to influence the consumer to purchase an item that they may not need.
On kids, these strategies can be very damaging. Businesses should be careful about what kind of impact they want an ad to have on the audience, especially the youth.
Ads should only contain facts that are clear and concise. Do not lie to kids or their parents.
Become a Champion of Transparency
It is not unusual for ads to be hidden in content. The mobile games that children typically play are not actually free but are full of ads that pop up every few minutes. Parents, often, do not know that their children are being exposed to dozens of ads through a seemingly innocent app. They, therefore, are not aware of the messages these ads impart to the viewers.
You probably have heard about children using their parent’s credit cards to make purchases through an app and spending hundreds to thousands of dollars.
This has become a frequent problem, specifically with Apple. Parents allow their children to use their iPhones and iPads. When a child gets tricked into going on a spending spree, they use the credit cards that are connected with the devices.
Apple, as a response, promised to refund payments made by children without a parent’s consent. The company also rolled out measures to prevent children from making purchases online without their parents knowing, including an Ask to Buy notification that informs the adult about an upcoming expense.
The traditional methods of advertising and marketing may be suitable for adults, but not for kids. Kids do not have the experience or the capacity to understand that content on the internet or television may not be truthful. The industry should be careful not to often use deceitful strategies to sell products and services to kids.