The following essay question was asked on an IELTS test recently held. You can spend 40 minutes on this task. You have to write at least 250 words.
Some people believe that advertisements targeting children may have negative effects on them, and suggest banning such advertisements as a solution. To what extent do you agree or disagree?
Children constitute a sizable section of the population. Needless to say a large number of advertisements on TV and other forms of media are directly targeted at children. Is this a positive trend? Does it have any negative effects on kids? Some people believe that it is bad for kids. Well, let’s see if there is some truth in that argument.
Children are ‘soft targets’. Advertisements targeting kids usually are of products they have an inherent interest in. For example ads for cookies, chocolates, health drinks and toys almost always portray kids. Children are also highly impressionable. It is easy to convince them that a certain brand of cookies or chocolates is better than similar products from another brand. It is also easy to convince them that using a certain product is ‘cool’.
Brands all over the world are trying hard to expand their reach and as such they are keen on exploring all possible options. That is where kids come into the plot. In today’s nuclear families children play a huge role in decision making. They decide what they want to eat or wear. They might even decide what their parents should wear to work. One could argue that this is some form of a children’s empowerment. Unfortunately that is not the case.
Children are too young to decide what is good or bad for them. Take for instance, the ads for instant noodles and potato chips: they are now being marketed as health foods. The target audience of these ads is mostly kids. Advertisements, too, portray kids gorging on them. These ads give the impression that consuming junk foods on a regular basis is perfectly OK when, in fact, it has serious impact on health. There are also ads that promote unhealthy rivalry between kids.
So what is the solution? Will banning these ads solve the problem? Of course, it will – to a certain extent. It is true that besides being a marketing tool, ads are educative. Children can learn a lot of things from them. Therefore banning all ads targeting kids might be immature. However, it is essential that the government bans ads that can have a negative impact on the emotional or physical well-being of kids.