Though corporations are the easy targets for turning kids into “blank-faced, videogame-playing, violence-saturated, sugar-mongering, overweight, docile citizens of the future”, a greater share of the blame should be placed on the government. (Dan 2001) This criticism is not lacking merit, for the government has a more direct responsibility to protecting its citizens compared to a business’ imperative to look after shareholders. The parenting style adopted by parents account for child behavior at home, but governments can play a more active role in the kind of cultural exposure children get at schools and public spaces. Both schools and public places have now become prime media for propagating consumer culture. Corporations sponsor play areas or learning facilities in schools in exchange for spreading brand awareness. Beneath apparently philanthropic or socially responsible actions of corporations lay motives of monetization. But there is no reason why this cannot be otherwise. And this is where government and its agencies can intervene. Posters and facilities in school can be made advertising free, which is consistent with the ethos of proper education. Government can also play a role in regulating popular media that is accessible to children. Today, two major such mediums are television and the Internet. An active regulation of children’s programs in these media will help protect children from manipulation by advertisers.
The government can do only so much regulation without breaching freedom of speech provisions in the Constitution. And it is an absurd hope to expect businesses to curb their marketing instincts. Hence the major responsibility for protection of children from advertising lies with parents. Evidence so far suggests that parents are by large indifferent to the malefic effects of children targeted advertising. It is perhaps a reflection of their own consumerist behavior that most do not recognize the child abuse taking place under their guardianship. We have to remember that parents of today were the children of the previous generation. It was in the 1970s and ‘80s that the idea of marketing goods directly to children was taking root. It is this childhood conditioning toward implicit acceptance of consumerist culture that limit contemporary parents’ perspective. Hence they are unable to see the harmful effects of children’s advertisement. However, there is no reason why this cannot change. Indeed, parental responsibility is imperative if children are to grow up into well rounded individuals instead of consumption addicts.