This post was first published on Parentous.
I am writing this letter in the capacity of a mother of a child at an impressionable age.
I don’t watch TV, and as a consequence neither does my child who is in my care throughout the day. [And thank God for that!] As a toddler, he is learning the ways of the world, a tiny step a day. I put in a lot of effort in trying to instill good values and good habits in him.
The other day, I happened to catch a few advertisements on TV, quite by chance. So, I will take this opportunity to share my concerns about this ad and on retrospect this ad too, but I would suggest you must take it as concerns of a mother about several such ads. These are just two of the many on TV.
The first advertisement shows a child making faces at fruits and vegetables, while the other one shows kids turning up their noses at milk. These may be real-life scenarios in several households, but not all. May be it looked like a wonderful idea to connect with mothers of children who shun nutrition by turning up their noses at fruits, vegetables and milk. But when I watch these ads, it feels extremely unsettling. I want to turn off the TV because I don’t want my child to watch these ads. I am relieved that he is fond of fruits, vegetables and milk but kids emulate other kids. It does not help that children in these ads are making faces at fruits, vegetables and milk.
I will neither throw statistics at you nor quote psychologists. I won’t even link strong public opinions on such ads or tread on how misleading ads can be. I just want to say, it is worrying for me, or any other mother like me, to let our kids watch these kinds of advertisements. It just negates all the hard work we do in making sure they favor natural food like fruits, vegetables or milk over packaged sweetened juice or milk additives laden with sugar or chocolate.
Today, my child is too young but tomorrow he may want to watch some TV. So, for me, the concerns do not end at how TV could be addictive for young kids; but I am in fact more anxious about the kind of advertisements on TV. Moreover, these days a lot of ads of products, which are not even directly related to kids, are targeting children. This is highly alarming. In a few countries around the world, there are strict regulations on targeting young children by marketers and it is highly unlikely we have anything noteworthy in India.
That is all I have to say. For now.
A Concerned Mother of a 2 year old
Note: Dear parents, is it me or you feel the same way too?