Advertising to Kids

Objective :

  • Realize the influence that advertising exerts on our lives;
  • Recognize the advertising strategies used to sell products;
  • Become familiar with the main aspects of the law that prohibits advertising to kids under age 13.  

       

Description :

This activity, designed by the Office de la protection du consommateur, informs students about the existence of a law prohibiting advertising to anyone under age 13. Students explore its rationale and its elements through class discussion, group research, and a presentation.

Equipment :

    Introduction :

    Ask students in the class the following questions:

    • What is advertising?
    • Name some product brands that you know.
    • Why do you know these brands? (We see them advertised everywhere.)
    • How long have you known about them? (Probably for a very long time, since companies are looking to develop customer loyalty from a young age.)
    • Where do you see these brands? (This question is an opportunity for students to identify the different forms of advertising and advertising strategies.)

    Explanations :

    Did you know that there is a law, only in the province of Québec, prohibiting commercial advertising to kids under age 13? (Pages 12 and 13 of the Your Kids and Ads document contain information on this topic and discuss what is permitted under the legislation, subject to certain conditions.)

    Why is advertising to anyone under age 13 prohibited in Québec? (Your Kids and Ads document : 1. Kids are vulnerable to advertising, or in other words, are easily influenced by it. 2. Advertising affects our health. 3. Advertising affects our behaviour.)

    Instructions :

    Divide the class into three groups. Each group must choose one of the three questions below, then answer it through discussion and by conducting a brief Internet search :

    • Why are kids vulnerable to advertising? (It’s harder for them to tell information from promotion; ads use magical worlds that are appealing to children; the behaviours that children adopt will follow them into adulthood; they have a huge influence on their parents’ purchases; and so on.)
    • Why does advertising affect children’s health? (According to the Coalition québécoise sur la problématique du poids, advertising is recognized as among the causes of obesity among young people; the intensity at which high-calorie foods with little nutritional value are marketed is known to be a factor in the obesity epidemic; television ads affect food choices and encourage consumption; even brief exposure to food advertising affects the food preferences of preschoolers; and children snack 45% more when exposed to food advertising.)
    • Why does advertising affect children’s behaviour? (Repeated exposure to adult products like alcohol can normalize this type of consumption; advertising can influence children’s values and self-esteem; ads create needs that children want to fulfill immediately; ads make young people worry about their image by offering products that will make them popular; and the stereotypical images of girls can lead to eating disorders.)

    Every group then presents the outcome of their work to the entire class.

    Conclusion :

    To wrap up the activity, ask students:

    What do you think of the provincial legislation that prohibits advertising to kids under age 13?

    Additional resources

    You can get hard copies of the Your kids and ads document by writing to opceducation@opc.gouv.qc.ca