Dumb Little Man

The Ethics of Marketing to Children and Teens

Before the advent of the Internet, most children spent their time playing outside and watching television. While watching their favorite cartoons, they would be bombarded by various commercials. These ads would use certain elements to boost general appeal to kids, such as amusing characters, a wide variety of colors, catchy songs, and amazing toys.

Of course, these advertisements were designed to capture the attention of children so that they’d beg their parents to buy them whatever it is that caught their eyes. This fact is something that some marketers are trying to exploit.

If you have a business that targets teenagers and children as your audience, you need to implement some ethical guidelines to make sure that you keep the integrity of your business.

Never Trick the Kids

how to market to kids and teens

It’s not a bad idea to focus your advertisements on children, but never trick them into buying something that they don’t really need. Kids are very easy to trick and they don’t really care about anything as long as they can do what they want.

There are tons of devious applications on mobile phones that would force children to pay or buy something just to continue playing a certain game. Since most children are left unsupervised when using mobile phones, some developers trick children into paying for something with their parents’ money.

If you want to market your products, do it properly. You can show a simple ad about the product that you are offering without any tricks. Your business will lose its credibility if the parents found out about this.

Adult Products should not be Marketed to Kids

Did you know that your kids might see something that they should not see on the Internet simply because of advertisements? There are some companies out there that would not really care if the one using it is a kid or an adult. They will just let their ads pop up anywhere they want.

Even if you are opting for an all-in-one marketing platform, you are still allowed to choose your target market and you can decide who would be able to see your advertisements. If you are advertising your adult products on children websites and games, then something is wrong with you.

Protect the Children from Danger

As the company advertises to kids and teens, it is your responsibility to protect them. If you asked for their email address or they key-in their personal information, you have to make sure that these details are protected.

There are so many instances of information leak that would put the kids in danger. Part of your responsibility is to make sure that all your data is secured.

Involvement of Psychologists in Market Research

As a company owner, you should get a psychologist to help with market research as they can help you make ethical decisions. When you are targeting kids, you cannot simply start an advertising campaign without knowing the possible repercussions of what you are going to do.

If you have psychologists with you, they can assess if your ads are ethical for children and if it will not cause any backlash to your business.

Important Principles that Every Advertiser should Follow

If your target market is kids and teens, there are certain principles that you have to follow to make sure that you are not harming the children.

  1. Advertisers should always consider the maturity and level of knowledge of their audience before they start an advertisement. You should know that kids have limited capacity when it comes to evaluating which information is correct or not. You have to take this into account and protect them from their own weakness.
  2. Advertisers should never exploit the imagination of children by using make-believe plays. If you are going to sell them something make sure that you only show what they can get from it.
  3. Any kind of product or content that is not appropriate for children should not be promoted and targeted to them directly.
  4. Advertisers should always make sure that the information that they provide through their advertisements are real and accurate. It should also be easy to understand so the children can recognize it and learn from it. You have to remember that advertisements will also be a way for children to learn so if you make false statements, it would affect them negatively.
  5. Advertisers are also advised to avoid any negativity in their advertisements, especially when they are targeted to children. The ads should also show something that can encourage positive social behavior like kindness, honesty, generosity, friendship, respect, and more.


Advertisements can have a big effect on the growth and development of children. As you all know, most of them can easily memorize the advertisements they’re regularly exposed to. For this reason, proper ethics should be observed constantly to make sure that the content and message of your ads won’t have any negative effects.

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