Advertisers regard children, many of whom are in positions to influence their parents, as a huge target market. The Advertising Educational Foundation estimated in 2012 that the spending power of children is approximately $1 trillion. Children absorb ads about a wide variety of products through TV and radio, phones and electronic media. Both the general public and lawmakers are concerned about the type of products promoted to kids -- to the extent that the Children's Television Act, enacted in 1990, continues to be enforced by the FCC more than two decades later.


Children are inundated by ads promoting a variety of non-healthy foods, from cereals and soft drinks to candy, snacks and fast food -- they don't see many commercials touting vegetables or healthier foods. A vast number of children in the U.S. are at risk for obesity, a situation that prompted First Lady Michelle Obama in 2010 to develop the "Let's Move" program in an attempt to switch kids' focus from junk food and watching TV to better nutrition and increased evercise.


Kids are frequently targeted by advertisers of clothing, especially around back-to-school time. Children are also the focus of seasonal clothing promotions that feature lightweight items like shorts, dresses and T-shirts. Ads for winter clothing, including jackets, and high-end footwear continue to reach children. The popularity among kids of a particular style of clothing is achieved through continual mass marketing directly to children who either have their own money to spend or who convince their parents to make the purchase.

Video Games

As a result of child-focused advertising, online digital media services like PlayStation and the Xbox have dramatically increased the popularity of video games. Advertisers bombard children with ads proclaiming the "latest and greatest" game, creating an urgency in children who "must have" the game. The PlayStation and Xbox consoles -- required to play their respective games -- are not inexpensive, nor are the games themselves. Children's advertising, however, often overlooks the high cost of gaming products.


Toys represent the backbone of advertising directed at children. Advertisers know that if they can make a toy attractive enough to kids, sales and profits will follow. Kids are a willing audience for toy ads, which increase in number as we get closer to the holidays, when toy buying is at its highest level for the year.

Phones and Electronic Media

Cell phones, computers, tablets and other electronic equipment aren't just for grownups. Promoting these devices to children allows advertisers to enjoy two benefits: Electronics can be promoted by advertisers as something to own, as well as serving as a vehicle through which advertising can occur. For example, children are exposed to myriad ads enticing them to purchase a computer; once they have one, they are besieged by more advertising coming at them through the internet on that same computer.