July 22, 2004

Regulation of Ads for Kids: An Uphill Battle

In the U.S., the way current law reads, it is more difficult to regulate advertising to children than to adults. On June 18, Senator Tom Harkin introduced the HeLP (Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention) America Act. This legislation will restore the Federal Trade Commission's authority to regulate advertising to children.

Since 1980, when Congress rescinded the FTC's power to regulate advertising to children, marketing directed at children has exploded with almost no government oversight.

The results are staggering. Our children are inundated with advertising-- on tv, radio, the Web, billboards, movies, their clothing, even in the classroom!

On average, children see 40,000 commercials on television alone!

According to Dr. Susan Linn, author of Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, "marketing that targets children encourages family stress, precocious sexuality, youth violence, and unhealthy eating habits."

In Canada, legislation banning advertising directed to children 13 years and under, on the basis of research showing harmful effects, survived a Supreme Court of Canada challenge from Irwin Toys of Toronto in 1989. Despite numerous calls since, for similar legislation in other provinces, no further progress has yet been made.

Urge your Members of Parliament to take a stand for children now!

Rose Anne Dyson, Ed.D.
Chairperson, C-CAVE
Author of MIND ABUSE: Media Violence In An Information Age
Co-author of MEDIA, SEX, VIOLENCE and DRUGS in the GLOBAL VILLAGE and Terrorism, Globalization & Mass Communication