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Is the online marketing of products aimed at children really handled in the correct way?

Let’s face it when companies have a new product in stock they need to market it in order to make people aware of it. However they do not just market it at anyone. They take a look at their product specifications and see who the intended user of the product is and this then forms the target market. For it for example you wouldn’t market say baby boots at the elderly because they are not going to have a need for them! Just as similarly, you wouldn’t market say an explicit game containing violence and rated as age 18+ towards teenage boys aged 14 because they wouldn’t be able to buy it and its content is deemed non suitable for them.

However a new spanner being thrown into the works at the moment is how companies market products online towards children. They may soon face guidelines and possible restrictions as to the way they carry out this marketing and the types of products that they actually select to market towards children. These restrictions and guidelines may come about as a result of such discussions by the government.

An investigation into whether we should be concerned about preventing marketing of products such as “padded bras” and shirts with slogans such as “When I grow up I want to be Barbie!” should really be targeting a child based group. The discussions into this have considered the idea of having “age appropriate marketing” as a form of code of conduct to ensure that we are not damaging the upbringing and mental, personal and physical aspects of children’s lives within our society today.

Marketing in today’s society is brilliant at grabbing attention, creating a desire and then further more a need for this product. Parents of children are usually the ones placed under the most pressure with children wanting to be “cool” and to be able to follow the latest trends, crazes and have access to the latest products.

The ongoing pressure for children to fit in with their friends at school has fuelled the fire and given something for companies to play on in order to market products and make a sale. They tug on the heart strings approach – with no parent wanting their child to be behind with the times and worse still actually bullied for not having the latest thing or following the next big trend or craze.

The most worrying thing at the moment is the images within magazines and those seen online with news stories which are influencing the way that our children perceive themselves and how they want to change to be like their favourite celebrity. The further influence of celebrities in music videos and particularly how celebrities present themselves on their own websites has seen to be having significant implications on the young minds within our society.

The government are not asking for companies to stop marketing products to children but they are asking of them to take a closer look at the product and style it in a way that takes on the correct tone as well as ensuring that the product actually selected is appropriate for such a child based target group.

Constantly bombarding children in our society with imagery perceived as sexualised can often be taken in by children as a norm – it happens so often in today’s society! Taboo subject that we used to keep private in the past are no more, they are broadcast openly within the media. Earlier this year around May, Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to take action to protect children from "excessive commercialisation and premature sexualisation".

On his further investigation he was said to of been shocked by the branding that was targeted towards younger age groups, we are in a changing society and it is important to understand that but, are we fast seeing childhood disappearing and can we ever move towards a family friendly society where our children will not be influence by such “sexual imagery”

Currently marketing towards children is not handled in the correct way however, confronting this issue head on is going to be challenging and we look forward to how the government plans to tackle this. Hopefully they will tighten regulations so it is handled in a more appropriate way.