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Teach Your Kids to be Skeptics

Teach Your Kids to be Skeptics
Angelo Coppola

Whether or not you believe 100% of the responsibility rests on parents shoulders to police all of the media and advertising their children absorb, it says something about us as a culture when wealthy, educated, decision-makers target children in advertising.  And it is most egregious when those ads are designed to sell products that are nearly universally accepted to be unhealthy.

“Children are being exposed to very increasingly clever, sophisticated marketing techniques for products that are largely unhealthy, so what chance do they have to make healthy choices?”

I’ve been in marketing for over 15 years.  I buy space and design ads all of the time.  And, if there’s one thing you should know about advertising, it’s this: it works.  That’s why hundreds of billions of dollars per year are spent on advertising.

More than half the supermarket products deemed unhealthy claimed to be nutritious.

Researchers also found online marketing tactics like games embedded with advertising, promotions using social networking sites and viral marketing were on the rise.

Karen Sims from the group The Parents Jury says it is near-impossible for parents to tackle the flood of information.

“It’s really hard when kids have this saturated, cumulative marketing,” she said.

“Constantly whatever they’re looking at they’re being marketed to and parents can’t keep track of this.”

I advocate teaching kids how to be skeptical of advertising at the earliest possible age that they can understand some of the necessary concepts — around 6 years old.