In today’s society, parenting has become more challenging than ever. Parenting today is a lot different from parenting a couple of decades ago. Our society is constantly evolving causing various changes in the dynamics between parent and child. With today’s technologies children are subjects to great amounts of negative exposure that parents have a difficult time controlling. One of the most controversial aspects to that exposure is advertising. Parents struggle from day to day in raising their children and providing a healthy environment for them. Children and young adults are increasingly being targeted through media, internet, magazines, and cell phones and even at schools. More than 40,000 television ads alone per year are being directly targeted at children. Children spend an average of 44.5 hours a week watching television, where they are exposed to many unhealthy food commercials.
Children are vulnerable and they perceive things differently. They are more likely to want certain products because of the way they were presented in a televised commercial; with bright colors, or a kid’s favorite cartoon character, with a surprise toy or an online code to a free game. However the majority of those products are processed foods and products packed with high sugars, high fats and high salt, which is causing some serious health problems in young children. One of the major issues is childhood obesity. The rates of obesity in America’s children and young adolescents have almost tripled in the last 25 years. Approximately 20% of American youth is overweight, with alarming increase in ages between two and five years old. Children with obesity problems at young ages are more prone to being obese in their adult life as well, placing them at the risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and also some forms of cancer. The childhood obesity epidemic is a serious public health problem that increases morbidity, mortality, and is posing substantial long term effects on economic and social costs.
When we think about the children we think about the future. We think about the innocence and vulnerability. We need to make sure children are protected and guided through their young lives so they can grow and learn and live a healthy life. Many companies are directly targeting children and using their vulnerability to gain higher profits. They are simply using children as a means to an end. According to Kant’s theory, we should act in a manner that can be universalized. The advertisements that prey on children’s lack of cognitive ability and those who use advertisements to manipulate children cannot be universalized. What if everyone acted in that manner? This would leave a serious issue among families and the cost of living.
Different types of advertisements to children are happening every second across the world, and in today’s society the content has become increasingly more inappropriate and sexual. Young children watching some of these advertisements can be harmful. We all have heard of the popular kids cartoon character SpongeBob SquarePants and the fast food chain Burger King. The two have joined together to promote an advertisement for Burger King and its 99 cent kids menu. SpongeBob is a preschool character, and in this case it is being used in a highly sexual matter that objectifies women and sends an outrageous message to children. The commercial is aired with the Sir Mix-A-Lot song "Baby Got Back” with models in the back ground shaking their square butts. Children reciprocate what they see, and therefore they will follow by example and respond inappropriately to the commercial. So the question we are faced with is would you let your child dance inappropriately like that? Most parents would answer no and so would Kant. The children are being used as means to an end because they are manipulated and don’t know any better. Burger King is trying to attract children into buying