Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Religious Indoctrination and Children's Television

What are Saturday morning cartoons full of? Aside from the occassional bout of good 'ol toon violence, they're mostly full of commercials targetting children. Loads of them. Overall, in America, the average child sees 40,000 commercials annually.

The problem, especially with young children, is that they don't have a good grasp on what is truth and what is exaggeration -- or just plain fiction. In other words, children don't have that crucial "grain of salt" we adults take our advertisement with, until they're about ten years old. Younger than that, and they're easy and susceptable targets for the advertisement's message. If they see a commercial that tells them that all the cool kids have a Voltfire Extra Super-duty Cargo Train Robot Commander, they want one too. Young children are so vulnerable that some countries outlaw television advertising to children altogether.

Yet the vast majority of families in the US take advantage of their children in exactly the same way. Religious Indoctrination starts long before children have any hope of weighing the truth of what they are being exposed to. It amazes me to think of all the wars, all the deaths, all the suffering, and all of the hate that has resulted from the corruption of vulnerable children.

CARU, the Children's Advertising Review Unit has posted guidelines for what is and isn't suitable in children's ads. It's too bad nobody uses these guidelines for religious indoctrination, as it clearly voilates them. Read these segments from section 2b Product Presentation and Claims in their guidelines, and imagine it's talking about religious indoctrination:

To avoid deceptive and/or inappropriate advertising to children involving product presentations and claims:

1. Copy, sound and visual presentations should not mislead children about product or performance characteristics.

2. The presentation should not mislead children about benefits from use of the product. Such benefits may include, but are not limited to, the acquisition of strength, status, popularity, growth, proficiency and intelligence.

3. Claims should not unduly exploit a child's imagination. ... it should not create unattainable performance expectations nor exploit the younger child's difficulty in distinguishing between the real and the fanciful.

4. Advertisements should demonstrate the performance and use of a product in a way that can be duplicated by a child for whom the product is intended.

5. The advertisement should not mislead children about what is included in the initial purchase.


Naomi said...

Holey cow! Well, I really knew about the indoctrination, but when you realize that religion has always been way ahead of the curve MadisonAvenue pioneered...wow!

It's extremely frustrating to acknowledge that that "mad-bovine of a SacredCow" (read: religion) can never be fully attacked and defeated with exposure. It must die by education and attrition, rather like your "trickle-up" post (an excellent one, BTW!)

The Rev. Jenner J. Hull said...

Print those five points as a sticker and slap it on the front of every religious book ever made.

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