A new study from the University of Arizona shows that the more that kids watch television, the more likely their parents are to be stressed out. The study found that when kids watch lots of television, they’re also being exposed to tons of ads. Because kids aren’t able to understand persuasive intent (i.e. that ads are trying to sell them something) they then want to buy whatever the advertisements they watch show them. Then, when parents take their kids to the store, the kids want toys they’ve seen in-between commercial breaks on Paw Patrol, BS parents inevitably say no, kids throw a tantrum, parent’s stress levels go up, repeat, repeat, repeat, for every store trip until the end of time.
The study, which was published in the International Journal of Advertising finds that the more advertising children see (and ultimately, that means the more traditional cable television they watch) the more likely they are to ask for useless plastic toys and crap that is advertised to them. That leads to more conflict between mom and toddler, mom and kid, mom, and 11-year-old.
The study, based on survey data of nearly 450 parents of kids aged 2 to 12, found they also more likely to engage in “specific coercive behaviors” like begging, pleading, or throwing a tantrum for said toy, which obviously makes parents wickedly stressed out.
Obviously, the problem with this study is that “turn off the television” is not always a viable parenting strategy for busy parents, especially parents who are trying to parent and work during COVID-19. And advertising towards kids is a multi-billion dollar industry, one that can’t even be avoided at times by switching to streaming services. How many kids movies or TV shows have you watched where a can of Coca-Cola or a bag of Twizzlers is prominently displayed?
Integrated advertising, straight up commercials, radio-ads, and YouTube advertising all seep into our kid’s brains and make them want toys. Add that to the fact that kids don’t understand that ads are trying to sell them stuff until they’re about 12, and you’ve got a real problem on your hands. Is there a real solution besides turning off the television, besides the fact that that’s not really a solution? Uh, not really. So, good luck!