Exposure and Thoughts

In a recent study it was shown that a child will be exposed to over 600,000 commercials in the first 20 years of their lives (Larson). The youth is also defined as the “three-in-one market” because they can spend their own money, can influence their parents to spend money on them, and will be the future generation that will be spending all of the money (Larson). Found in a present study there are two theories used to look deeper into gender related issues in the media. There is the social learning theory, and the cultivation theory. The social learning theory, shows how children are apt to imitate the behaviors that they see in the media. The cultivation theory shows that children are influenced very strongly by the images they see in the media, and what these images portray, and mean to them.(Bakir)

The persuasive intent for advertising emerges around the ages of seven or eight. In a study of letters written to Santa Clause it was shown that by a great deal more, girls are more likely to ask for gender bender toys than boys are (Larson). Boys judgments were more related to instrumental notions, where as girls leaned more towards an expressive orientation. Boys are more likely to be perceptive to the noises and music, whereas the girls' focus is more based on the characters and what they are portraying.

More current research by Bakir et al. (2008) suggested that marketing strategies may unnecessarily exaggerate gender differences in toy commercials. Specifically, they looked into whether age and gender of preadolescence children influenced their thoughts toward advertisements that had agenetic(missing aspects) or communal(sharing or common interests) ideas (Bakir). They created two distinct age groups made up of 5- to 6-year old and 9- to 10-year old, to go along with distinct stages of cognitive development. They came to realize that there were very small effects of age toward gendered advertisements; specifically, there was no difference between the attitudes of younger and older boys. However with the girls, there were slight variations with younger girls having higher impressions of the communal ads than older girls; but their attitudes did not change when it came to the agenetic advertisements (Bakir).


“These findings reveal the limitations of a cognitive development approach insofar that younger boys and girls did not respond more favorably to agenetic or communal ads respectively. Alternatively, it raises the possibility that marketers can increase profits and brand identity while simultaneously reflecting more accurate and contemporary notions of masculinity and femininity” (Bakir). This allows marketers to create more successful ads and commercials that feed the children what they want to see Bakir et al. (2008) found that older preadolescence girls were more likely to reject communal advertisements in favor of agentic ones.

Toy commercials and other commercials for that matter need to see where the children are coming from and what they are most interested in, so that their commercials will target them correctly, and will play to what each gender, as well as gender-mixed commercials will be as effective as possible. Even though we are beginning to see a more equal distribution of a girls to boys ratio on today's commercials, the difference between each gender in the commercials is very noticeable and the alterations seen in them can be very easily distinguished.

Children are very perceptive, and most of the time the commercials are not the key aspect of what is making them think one way or the other. Usually by the age of two, they are already making their own assumptions, and decisions on what is gender “correct” (Bakir, Palan). From the ages of three to five, is when they are changing their ideas and making the gender specific ideas than they used to (Bakir, Palan).

Bakir, Aysen, and Kay M. Palan. "How Are Children's Attitudes Toward Ads and Brands Affected By
Gender-Related Content in Advertising?" Journal Of Advertising 39.1 (2010): n. pag. Web. 3 Dec.

Larson, Mary Strom. "Interactions, Activities, and Gender in Children's Commercials : A Content
Analysis." Journal of Broadcasting and & Electronic Media 45.1 (2001): n. pag. Web. 3 Dec.

Unknown Artist.http://www.hadd.ie/adhd.htm. Family Support Group for ADHD.