programs on TV, and general concerns over the content of children's programming, particularly with regard to violence.
The marketing of violent entertainment to minors and the advertising practices and rating systems of the film, music, and electronic game industries are also being monitored very carefully. The issue of what young consumers are watching, listening to, and playing and how much violence that entertainment contains became an area of great concern following the shootings at Columbine High School as well as several other schools. In 2001 legislation was proposed that would have given the FTC authority to take action against companies that violated their own industry's voluntary policies governing the marketing of violent products to minors. However, the bill was suspended following FTC reports that the companies had made improvements.44
As discussed in the previous chapter, there is also growing concern over how marketers are using the Internet to communicate with and sell to children. Another area that has received a great deal of attention recently is the use of in-school marketing programs, whereby companies provide equipment or pay money to schools in exchange for the rights to sell their products to students or communicate with them. Ethical Perspective 22-2 discusses the controversy over the commercialization of schools.
Advertising to children will remain a controversial topic. Some groups feel that the government is responsible for protecting children from the potentially harmful effects of advertising and other forms of promotion, while others argue that parents are ultimately responsible for doing so. Various consumer groups have also urged the media, particularly television broadcasters, as well as marketers to assume responsibility for the programs and advertising and promotional messages they offer to children.45 A study comparing the attitudes of business executives and consumers regarding children's advertising found that marketers of products targeted to children believe advertising to them provides useful information on new products and does not disrupt the parent-child relationship. However, the general public did not have such a favorable opinion. Older consumers and those from households with children had particularly negative attitudes toward children's advertising.46 A recent survey of 12,500 young people up to 18 years of age was conducted for Advertising Age regarding their attitudes toward advertising and various media. The study found that two-thirds of those surveyed believed the main goal of advertising is to make them buy things while only 11 percent felt that its objective is to provide information.47
It is important to many companies to communicate directly with children. However, only by being sensitive to the naivete of children as consumers will they be able to do so freely and avoid potential conflict with those who believe children should be protected from advertising and other forms of promotion.
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