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Advertisements definitely have negative effects on teenagers. There is a common phrase in the current world of business, 'Listen to the new tribe language of teens and you will reap'. All over the world, people are bombarded by different sorts of advertisements be it billboards, television commercials, posters, internet advertisements etc. All these advertisements have extreme effects on the targeted market. Marketers will put up advertisements for two major reasons, to sway new clients to their side or keep their already existent customers glued in their positions i.e. they cut a niche for themselves. But advertisements have had quite adverse repercussions on teenagers. Researches carried out have shown an increasing trend in advertisements targeting teenagers (Hareyan 6). Teenagers have undoubtedly emerged as the highest spenders in the whole world. In this respect, I will look at five major fields that have been immensely affected by advertisements targeted at the youth, these are:
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2) Self-image and Social affiliation
3) Substance abuse and Sex
Research has shown that a number of young students who have televisions in their bedroom perform poorly than their counterparts who do not have a television set in their bedrooms. Likewise, teenage students were given projects to undertake and it was noted that those who watched television for more than two hours in a day were less creative and less interested in the project.
But there was a trend that seemed to be contradictory to the above. Students who had a computer in their bedrooms performed better than those students did not have a computer in their bedrooms. According to Common Sense media, the trend could be explained by the fact that students with computers spent most of the time researching or leisure surfing which is an interactive process that keeps the brain engaged in learning activities. On the other hand watching television only created images that had no positive effect on teenagers in terms of exercising their brains and if anything, it put the brain in a 'relax mode'.
Self-Image and Social Affiliation
There are literally millions and millions of advertisements that create a mentality of a perfect world among the teenagers. Advertisements on personal effects products, nutrition and supplement products portray scenes of people with tight and smooth skin, light complexion, snow-white and beautifully aligned teeth, ladies with gorgeous and sexy bodies and boys with masculine bodies. They create what teenagers will perceive as 'cool' and at the end of the day; these teenagers will be yearning for these products that will give them a certain look. Scores and scores of girls have appeared on international shows such as the Tyra Banks Show, Oprah Show and the likes talking about how they feel insecure with their bodies or image and how this has in turn affected their self-esteem. In the US and Britain, many cases of Anorexia and Bulimia have been noted to be on the increase with so many girls trying to get the so called perfect bodies. One girl said in an interview Tyra that her Bulimic issues started when she saw the kind of svelte body that renowned actress Keira Knightely had and she immediately started starving herself with one goal in mind - to have a body like Keira's or better.
Marketers of steroids have also displayed billboards of handsome young men with bulging muscles, a fact that has seen many boys take to different substances in the market shelves in an attempt to get similar bodies. All these images have a strong attractive and deceptive force on young people and this is further aggravated by the fact that most parents are not telling their young ones that what they see in advertisements is partially if not completely bogus. Teenagers are at a stage in their lives where they are discovering their identities or trying to and thus advertisements are of great influence in the choices they make.
Marketer will be opposed to this idea arguing that they are only trying to cut a niche for themselves and have no intention whatsoever to impact negatively on this young generation. But think about it, why do even established brands such as McDonalds or coca-cola still strive to advertise every now and then? Reap, that is the one thing stuck in their mind, and they will target the vulnerable teenagers. "Sex sales, so you better make it sexy girl!" are the words of former model and TV show host Tyra Banks to a member of the audience who was looking forward to putting up an advertisement on a jumbotron. Actor Chris Rock compiled and produced the documentary movie Good Hair (Chris Rock 5) in an attempt to figure why most African-American women perceive their hair as being not good enough - all I can say is watch the movie and make the judgement by your self. Self image is probably one of the most affected aspects of an individual by advertisements.
Social affiliation has also been affected by advertisements. Teenagers buying trends have tended towards what their peers would consider 'cool' and expensive. These will include flashy jewelry spotted in magazines, expensive sneakers in videos and smart devices in tech movies. As a result expenditure by teenagers has been recorded as the highest all over the world. This has seen crimes on the rise as well as stereotyping.
Substance abuse and Sex
Most advertisements have seen so many youngsters take on dangerous drug habits. Another study involving an Oregon state researcher shows that even those advertisements advocating for cessation of substance use have not been all successful. Anti-smoking advertisements targeted at parents has seen teenagers experimenting with tobacco for unknown reasons. When teenagers see their stars taking certain substances to ease stress such a drinking, they too are tempted to try the same stuff when stressed. This leads to teenagers abusing drugs as well as alcohol.
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A survey carried out has also shown that movies which feature sex scenes of some very influential thespians such as George Clooney, Idris Elba, and Halle Berry has led to teenagers fantasizing of having sex with these personalities but since they don't have them around them, they satisfy their urges with their fellow teenagers around them in school, in churches or at home (Linn 2). To them, the unreal in the movies, is suddenly more thrilling that the real, and they can only but crave for it.
What teenagers see in the movies or in TV programs (e.g. WWF) and play stations have highly fostered violence among the teenagers (Bosman 12). Teenagers experiment on what they see in the movies and more often than not they end up trying dangerous stunts. Some try to experiment with their peers and the results have been almost fatal. Teenagers will want to try and be the best as portrayed by what they see in the billboards and magazines, movie trailers and computer games. As a result they engage in violent activities or dangerous activities.
Advertisements on food substances, beverages and snacks have had a profound effect especially on girls (Hareyan 8). Obesity has been on the increase among girls who watch TV for more than an average of five hours in a given day. Girls have also had cases of anorexia and other poor health eating habits picked up from watching advertisements with some claiming they wanted to acquire such bodies that they saw in the movies or advertisements.
It is therefore clearly evident that advertisements affect the choices that teenagers make. It is also important to note that these choices have more negative than positive impacts among the teenagers. Teenagers are swayed by what they see on television screens, computer games, billboards, magazines and many other forms of media. They will yearn for whatever they perceive to be perfect and 'cool' scenarios from the advertisements not to mention that their curious nature leads them to try or venture into the forbidden and risky. Advertisements therefore definitely have negative effects on teenagers.