Thursday, January 10, 2013

Does Advertising Influence or Reflect Teen Culture...?

Does advertising influence or reflect teen culture? As our unit in Rogate comes to a close, we have been given a final assignment to complete, and that is to write a blog post on our opinions on the question: "Does advertising influence or reflect teen culture?" Well in my opinion, I believe that advertising both reflects and influences teen culture; you couldn't really have one without the other. Ads, advertisements, commercials, and the media in general are constantly influencing the lives of millions of older children and young teens all around the world. However, the media also has to adapt to the changes in teen culture as new interests arise and the culture develops and changes. As that happens, advertising has to change too and generally reflects teen culture and the interests that there are at that time. There is an equal balance of advertising influencing and reflecting teen culture.

First, let’s talk about how advertising reflects teen culture. As I mentioned before, as new interests and likes arise in teen culture, the media and advertising has to adapt to those changes and begin to advertise and sell products associating with the new interests in society. It is true that advertising may have a huge effect on teen culture, but what you see being advertised is 95% of the time what teens are currently interested in. For example, a new pop star or band becomes popular (let us say One Direction since they are my favorite band and are extremely popular today!). Teens all over the world absolutely love this band and just can't get enough of them! Advertisements, ads, commercials, etc. change and businesses begin to advertise their products using this band and its members as role models (this is known as Ethos). For example, One Direction has recently made a Pepsi commercial and I hear many people talking about it. It has stood out to many teens simply because it had One Direction in it! Not only do businesses use this band to advertise, but manufacturing companies now begin to sell products, clothes, perfumes, jewelry, shoes, etc that have to do with this new band! As you can see by this example, advertising greatly reflects teen culture and the current interests in society.

Now, let us talk about how advertising influences teen culture. The media greatly affects teenagers all around the world, and plays a tremendous part in their lives. Before I begin, I would like to share the opinion of another individual known as James Rada:

~ Businesses use advertising to promote their products and services, while other types of organizations use it to solicit donations or promote a cause. Because so much money goes into advertising and because there are so many ways to promote your message, the results are carefully measured to determine when to advertise, what to advertise and to whom to advertise to get the best returns on your money. Teenagers are a prime target market because they are impressionable and have lots of disposable income.
~James Rada

Because advertising plays such a significant part in promoting business, so much money and time goes into it (as James Rada said) to make sure that everything is carefully planned and "measured" out, including when it will be advertised, what will be advertised, and who will be the target age group (mostly teens and children). Another thing that Mr.Rada stated that really stood out to me was when he said that "Teenagers are a prime target because they are impressionable and have lots of disposable income". I do know that teens are a prime target for most advertising because of the fact that they are so easy to draw in and persuade. Teens always want to 'fit in' and have that 'perfect model body' and to be 'beautiful and perfect, or strong and muscular'. The fact that they also have a lot of disposable income is also very helpful to businesses looking to sell more and more products.

Teenagers spend about 6.75 hours per day using the media (such as watching T.V, going on the Internet, etc) according to the Teachers Institute of Philadelphia. Because of this, in one year, children and teens watch an average of 200,000 commercials and ads a year! Due to the intense and constant advertising, teens spend about $144 billion a year on clothes, entertainment, and fast food, and still can't seem to get enough! Even when they think they are satisfied, there is always something new and exciting out there that they just have to get. Interests are constantly changing and there always is some new product out there that is the new deal. The industry newsletter selling to kids and young teens, informed its readers that in order to connect with teens and children in their own homes, they have to use advertisements that uses both teenagers' oppositional nature and their need to fit in and be part of a group. They use these advertisements to build on these ideas and thoughts, in ways that teens can connect with.

One of the biggest issues of advertisement on teens is health and unrealistic views. One study reports that at age thirteen, 53% of American girls are "unhappy with their bodies." This grows to 78% by the time girls reach seventeen. Advertising promotes extremely unrealistic views of society. This greatly affects the views of kids and teens that lack a greater experience of the world, and are more easily drawn in to the media and its advertising. These children and teens are given fake views and requirements of what is "reality", and the importance of being socially accepted. This can be deadly. In fact, tobacco and alcohol advertising targeting teens have been made illegal because of how effective they were. Advertisements such as these can also lead to dangerous diets, drugs such as steroids (especially males), etc. As I mentioned before, teens always want to have that "perfect model body" when in reality those women and men used on T.V. for advertisements have been edited with technology to delete any flaws or imperfections. Women shown in these advertisements are usually too thin and underweight. These ads and commercials are one of the deadliest because even though you might know that what you are seeing is not real or healthy, you can still be impacted by it - more than you may know.

~ The message is that teens aren’t good enough the way they are. Many kids unwittingly buy into that message, and as a result, end up being hypercritical of themselves because we don’t fit a certain “image” that they believe is necessary for their happiness. What's wrong with this picture? This generation of kids is growing up in what is perhaps the most materialistic society we have ever had. They are surrounded by images of excess and the idea that buying “things” will bring them satisfaction. They are given things easily and rarely have to delay gratification. Worst of all, many of the things that are advertised to teens do not promote healthy development.

~ Susan Carney

I hope that after you have read this essay, you now understand more about advertising, the media, teen culture, and how they are all connected; I know for one that I do, after our whole unit in Rogate. This past unit has been so interesting for me and I have learned so much more than when we first started the unit. Now, as I have mentioned in my article, teens always have that sense to want to "fit in" and "be cool, popular, and beautiful, or good-looking". Well, in my opinion, all of this can be so hard to get away from, and I know that it is very difficult to stand out, be different, and to stand up for what you believe in. I admit that it is very hard, but I can assure that it is worth it, and it is better than being someone you are not be afraid of fitting in with society and meeting its expectations. Don't let the media impact you in a negative way, and be proud of who you are...

Stand out...I dare you...



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