We were watching the Baltimore Ravens football game this weekend together as a family. It was fun to hear my kids talk about their favorite players and try to figure out the game. The fun ended, at least for me, as soon as the advertisements came on. I was able to change the channel faster the second time around, but the first round of ads caught me by surprise. They really bothered me. I would have hoped that ads featuring sex, drugs and rock and roll (OK, the drugs were prescription drugs, including those that treat erectile dysfunction) would not be so prominent at one p.m. in the afternoon. I was naïve.
I learned that my best bet is to be fast with the remote – push “mute” AND change the channel. (I was able to mute the ads, but the images are still burned in my brain. Good job, ad execs…)
I also did a bit of research, which led me through the three stages of grief:
Denial, anger and acceptance. First, I was in denial about the ads’ impact. It’s just 60 seconds, it can’t be that bad, right? Then the more I read the data – footnoted! – the angrier I became. I would like to say I was in the third stage was acceptance, but I can’t. Instead I want to take action!
First, I want to educate others about the issues, with the hopes that it will spur you to action as well. Did you know:
1 - Alcohol manufacturers spend $5.7 billion/year on advertising and promotion, with most of the ads concentrated in sports programming. During prime time, only one alcohol ad appears every four hours; yet, in sports programming, the frequency increases to 2.4 ads per hour.
2 - Research has found that children begin making decisions about alcohol at an early age—probably during grade school according to research—exposure to beer commercials represents a significant risk factor.
3 – American advertising also frequently uses female models who are anorectic in appearance and, thus, may contribute to the development of a distorted body self-image and abnormal eating behaviors in young girls. Just what every mother of a daughter needs to hear!
There is great information available at the University of Michigan Television and Advertising website: http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm with more scary statistics.
Second, let’s talk about taking action. There are two approaches. One is to simply turn off the television! Many of the websites that talk about the increased commercialism suggest parents get rid of their televisions altogether. This isn’t a possibility in our house; I like television and grew up watching it a lot. I also enjoy watching lots of different sports on television, especially baseball. I love the playoffs and want my kids to experience the excitement of these games (like the Yankees/Red Sox game the other night that went into extra innings. It was great! Of course I was the only one up watching it, but I digress)….
The second way to take action is take a stand and let your voice be heard. Complain! There are a couple of ways to do this:
- FCC website: http://esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm
- Center for a Commercial Free Childhood is a great resource – and they have an action page on a range of campaigns. http://commercialfreechildhood.org
What will you do at your house if you see an ad you don’t like while you are watching TV with your kids?