Advertising and Your Child

What’s the harm of those candy and sugary cereal ads your kids see on TV?

A task force of the American Psychological Association has found that kids under age 8 tend to accept advertising messages as fact and may start expressing a preference for products after seeing a commercial just once.

That's a powerful influence competing for your child’s attention. As your toddler gets older and sees more and more ads on TV, online, in magazines and on billboards, you’ll probably want to keep that influence at bay.

Kids’ easy acceptance of marketing messages for fast and sugary foods, in particular, can lead to unhealthy eating habits. The most common products advertised to children are:

  • sugary cereals
  • candy
  • other sweets
  • soda
  • snack foods

There's a childhood obesity epidemic in this country, thanks in part to kids eating too much of these unhealthy foods. Healthcare providers also report an uptick in related health problems in kids, including type 2 diabetes and early heart disease.

Teach Kids the Limits of Ads

Avoiding or reducing the effects of ads on kids is one reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends limiting TV-viewing time. The AAP recommends NO screen time for kids under age 2 and limited, carefully monitored screen time beginning in the preschool years.

  • One way to avoid TV ads once your child does starting watching more is to record programs to be viewed later without the ads.
  • Try talking to your child about ads he has seen (anywhere, not just on TV), how he feels about them and how you feel about them.
  • Talk also about how advertising doesn’t always tell you everything you need to know about a product. Keep talking as your child grows and is exposed to more ads.

This message is not intended to provide individual medical advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have about your health or medical condition, your breastfeeding issues and your infant's health. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you have read in our emails, webpages or other electronic communications.

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