According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), an average child’s day consists at least of three to four hours of screen time. Generally, in the developing countries, the average time spent in front of a TV by a child is three hours. As an outcome, the television has become an influential factor in the lifestyle of children as well as the decisions made by these children. This is one of the reasons why researchers realized that the media and especially television has a significant role to play in the children’s becoming obese and overweight. The paper indicates how the television influences children’s obesity in society today.
According to the statistics released by Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (United States), the rate of children becoming obese has turned into twofold and fourfold among adults in a span of three decades. In 1980, the percentage of obese children aged between 6 and 11 were 7%. By 2012, it was 18%. The same trend was evident among adolescents. In 1980, the percentage of them being obese was 5%, and 21% in 2012. These outcomes have been attributed to various changes in society. One of those changes relates to the role of media. More so, such outcomes relate to the role of television in people's lifestyle and the decisions made by children.
It was identified that the influence of westernization due to the time spent watching television by children in Saudi Arabia has greatly impacted their health status. In the study, it was identified that children who spent more than three hours watching television on weekends had higher body mass index (BMI) than children spending less time. Other factors that seemed to influence the BMI of the children included a sibling’s decision on the amount of screen time to be spent in a given period. Additionally, the number of snacks eaten daily was mainly influential. This related significantly to those who ate more than three snacks. Spending some screen time at night was also an influential factor.
The children spending three or more hours of screen time had more skinfolds (106.2mm) than the children spending less than 1.75 hours in front of a TV every day. The latter group had 76.5mm of skinfolds. Moreover, the children who had a fat-rich diet or sedentary life had more adverse effects.
Media advertising plays a significant role in children’s preferences, diets, and food requests. Advertisements targeting children highly influence the decisions that children will make when they go to the local store or buy a snack at school canteen. In 2015, the American Psychological Association (APA) indicates that children aged 6-8 years cannot differentiate between programming and advertising. However, they are capable of remembering advertising content, which, therefore, makes them vulnerable to exploitative companies. As an outcome, such children are forced into buying non-nutritious products or requesting for the same.
Often, marketers go to great lengths in order to create advertisements that will capture the attention of children. They make use of cultural anthropologists and child psychologists. Furthermore, they send experts to fast-food restaurants, consumers’ homes as well as putting together focus groups. They also review literature related to child development as well as study the children’s fantasies, dreams, and drawings. As an outcome, the advertisers use the screen to meet the children at their level.
Advertisers target children mainly because the latter are seen as consumers who are searching for avenues of making their personal statements. They are also seen as early adopters of technology. Moreover, they are identified as consumers who are willing to take risks, explore, and multitask. Using the television and the amount of screen time spent by the target audience, the advertisers are able to make their impact effectively on the children’s lifestyle as well as their health status.
The larger part of nourishment items that are offered in different publicizing manifestations are calories-rich and are excluded from an adjusted eating routine. To that extent, 89% of all nourishment items emphasized in notices are not components of an adjusted eating routine. It is hard to advance solid food products in a very focused industry. Significant sustenance organizations have more prominent capital intends to advance their items that are sodium and fat-rich. For every American dollar contributed by the WHO to the advancement of good dieting propensities, the agro-nourishment industry uses $500 to advance the products it deals with.
The West Virginia University and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) led a study in order to assess if a media crusade in conjunction with an advertising methods could create changes in people’s consuming practices. Promotions introduced on the radio and TV, backed by question-and-answer sessions and different occasions secured by media, drove individuals to decreasing their regular utilization of 2% drain to only 1%. Consequences of the telephone studies conducted right after media fight demonstrated that 34% of individuals showed considerable improvement in the city focused by the crusade as compared to 4% for the same period in control city where no battle had taken place.
On another level, more time spent watching television results into less time spent doing activities that will make a child physically active. The researchers indicate that children are spending more time watching television, playing computer games, and doing other activities that require less physical activity, hence increasing their chances of becoming obese or overweight. Children no longer use much time riding bicycles in the neighbourhoods or engaging in activities that will make them run around. Following the newly released television drama series or video game has become their priority.
The media can use strategies to be utilized to reduce its impact on obesity. Since the latter is partially caused by food the children eat as a result of the media, social advertising can be used to reduce this impact. Social advertising can be described as an integration of principles in commercial marketing having positive impact to the target audience or general society as opposed to benefitting the marketer.
Through social marketing, the media can use its avenue to deliver health messages to the children without compromising over the time spent when creating the message. In other words, as resources are spent on making an advertisement that will last in the child's mind, they should also be spent on making a health message targeting the same audience.
The support by media of other external parties willing to break the obesity among children can also be helpful in terms of making a positive impact on the latter. For example, the “Let's Move” campaign has been greatly supported by media. Started on February 9, 2010, First Lady Michelle Obama's campaign on "Let's Move" is the first fight originated from the White House against negative lifestyle habits. Organized on a few separate stages, the program's aim was for not being corpulent. There were engaged ordinary people and buyers by doing the wholesome marking of various items by the U.S. Branch of Agriculture (USDA). It also included enhancing the healthful benchmarks of the National School Lunch Program, expanding youth's chances for physical action, and enhancing access to top notch nourishments in all US groups.
The multilevel methodology adjusts the course of corpulence emergency both on an individual level and higher societal level. Observing the change of a situation with an intention to help individuals in settling on solid eating regimen and active decisions, people perceive that individual decision is just comparable to the decisions accessible. This rationale is the thing that is driving the battle's foundation by all accounts as it advances the moral obligation outlined by the institutional changes in a consistent and firm way.
Generally, universal law gives an understanding meaning to ensure children's rights. Various states perceive the significance of the part accepted by media and guarantee that young people have access to data and substance from different national and universal sources, specifically those that mean advancing their social, moral, physical, and mental wellbeing.
Different nations have received regulations, models, assertions, etc intending to keep children from being promoted. On the other hand, just two nations have settled on choices like the decisions made by Quebec. In 1991, Sweden chose to abrogate all types of promoting children by considering that this target group consists of vulnerable people. Publicizing is hence denied because it targets children aged 12 or more. The nation feels that it is ethically inadmissible to utilize a medium that is as compelling as TV to focus on such audience.
Advertising products through mails to children under 16 is not allowed in Sweden additionally. Concerning Norway, a law was likewise issued; however, neither does it give the denial of publicizing for young people as it was in Sweden, nor does it control it in the same way Quebec does. In Norway, the emphasis is set on the way that publicizing ought to permit the crowd to recognize fiction from reality plainly. Too, publicists may not telecast a commercial targeting a young person before 9 pm. This nation gives an uncommon proclamation with respect to exceptionally strict utilization of this law and the unquestionable utilization of the expression "mistaken" in the article.
The present studies reveal that TV watching poses a serious danger in the health of the school-aged children. It affirms that a high number of such children watch TV for over three hours daily. Having increment in young age, they have more than one TV at home; they may even have their own TV. Therefore, it increases the hours of sitting in front of a TV throughout weekend, which is fundamentally connected with an expanded danger of adolescence weight. PCs and the Internet were not essentially joint with a serious danger of youth weight. School-based mediation projects ought to be appropriately actualized as these projects adequately lessen the presentation to TV and BMI, particularly in more sophisticated children. What is more, people ought to assume more positive part in decreasing the time their children spend sitting in front of a TV and urge them to participate in physical exercises. Nevertheless, the media can play a considerable role in reducing this negative impact by applying social advertising and supporting healthy living campaigns held by external parties.
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