Thursday, January 10, 2013

Advertising and Teens
Claire Nicosia

Advertising has a big influence on teen culture.  Most teens are all about keeping up with the newest technology or fashion trends.  When they see ads in magazines or on tv, the products seem like necessities to make them cooler, or more popular.  Media ads are designed to draw in consumers, and especially vulnerable targets are teens.  
“Television fascinates most children.  They will sit passively for hours absorbing whatever images move across the screen and the jumble of music, words, programs, and ads that make up the tv soundtrack.”  (Sheila H. Troppe of Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute.  Article: Television and Teens.)  Since today’s teens spend so much time using technology, they are exposed to an inconceivable amount of ads.  I can relate to this.  Sometimes when I sit through a commercial break during one of my favorite shows, I find myself mentally reciting the words of one of the commercials, even if it is something that I have absolutely no interest in (like a carpet cleaning service).  I’ve just seen it so many times that it sticks in my head.  That’s what companies want to happen.  They create catchy sayings or jingles for their ads so that they will stay in viewers memories.  
I believe that these ads make up teen culture.  In such a materialistic world, teen culture practically revolves around material things.  “Popular” is rarely who is the nicest, or with the most friends, it’s the person with the coolest stuff.  The person who throws the biggest parties.  The person who has everything they’ve ever wanted, and more.  They’ve succumbed to all of the companies telling them they “need” their  product, and so did their parents.  The few teens or families who actually realize the stupidity of the whole advertising world may be considered “uncool” or “lame.”  
“It is estimated that teenagers between the ages of 13-19 spend $144 billion a year on clothing, entertainment, and fast food.  Advertisers now realize that children not only influence the purchases of the goods and services that appeal to them, but they also influence many of the purchases in the entire household.  For example, it is estimated that 78% of children influence what their parents buy.”  (Jacquelyn Massey.  Article: The Impact of Advertising on Teenagers.)  Some families actually go broke because they do not know how to say no to their kids.  It’s like  a cycle.  Ads tell teens what to buy, teens tell their parents, and then their parents buy it.  Easy money.
Teen girls are especially influenced by media and advertising when it comes to their bodies.  The image of a “perfect body” is someone who’s incredibly skinny, has blemish-free skin, white teeth, and a nice tan.  Many girls feel pressured to look like these women, even though it is impossible, with all of the photo-editing programs that are use nowadays.  Did you know that second to peer pressure, media is the main cause of  dieting disorders like bulimia?  Also, teens are walking ads.  Everyone wants to be popular, and they think that dressing “popular” will help.  So they try to wear whatever brands the popular kids are wearing.
When I was younger, I did not have nearly as much stuff as my friends did.  It wasn’t because my family couldn’t afford those things, it was because my parents did not see the need for me to have so much stuff- to spoil me.  I used to be so upset by this.  But now I am starting to understand their point of view.  Often something that’s “in”one month is “old” the next.  Who said it was the media’s job to tell children what they should wear, eat, or buy?  Isn’t it rather pointless to try to keep up with the ads and media when there will be a new “big thing” within a few weeks?  Don’t be afraid to “pull away” from the media and just be yourself. 



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