The University of California examined children watching television stations and the types of food advertisements on them. It should come as no surprise as numerous reports tell the average child spend about 4 hours in front of the tube every day.
When they compared children’s television networks to networks for the general audience they found the kids stations had 76% more food commercials per hour! The time slot that had the most saturation of these foods were Saturday morning from 7-10 AM - the key time that kids spend watching their weekend cartoons.
About 7.7 food commercials were shown every 30 minutes which works out to be 1 food commercial every 8 minutes. These food companies are very smart – as they know children are very vulnerable and cannot understand the ‘bigger picture’ of what these commercials really mean. Businesses are geared on setting up their future consumers and food is an easy target.
- Fast food restaurants, sugary food, chips/crackers and sugar-added beverages accounted for 70% of the food commercials
- 34% were for food ‘on-the-run’
- and only 1 nutrition related public service announcement was found for every 63 food ads
As a parent you can work against this early ‘brainwashing.’ Control and monitor the amount of time the kids spend in front of the TV. Many experts recommend no more than 1.5 hours per day. Some other useful tips:
- Break TV time up - give 30 minutes after school, and 30 minutes in the evening
- Participate or encourage some physical activity for 30 minutes and then TV can come after
- Say good bye to your VIP card for getting over 100 stations – remember the more stations you have the more you will probably watch as you can watch shows you enjoy around the clock
- An after school extra-curricular activity is important – any sports team is perfect
- Implement this family rule: No TV until all home-work is complete
- Have open conversations with your children (especially if they are older) about what the commercials are, what they mean and what impact they will have on their lives. Just because Loreal says ‘you deserve’ a new hair color each week does not mean you need to or that it is good for your hair.