The Headache of Adverts on Children’s TV

As a family we spend a lot of time watching Netflix now – our favourite shows – on demand, just one button to press on the TV remote and just so much easier than watching anything else. But, every so often the children want to watch something that isn’t on Netflix or we think putting normal TV on will be a bit of variety for them and so we cave to their demands and stick it on for a while.

Within half an hour of the children watching normal TV they have the same demands. “I want that Mummy…”, “Can we ask Father Christmas for this Daddy…”. It’s constant and relentless and I didn’t understand why the children were so focused on material things until I sat and watched normal TV properly with them. It was as if they had swallowed an Argos catalogue.

But, a few minutes of TV watching later and I could see why the children were so fixated on the latest toys. In between each ten or fifteen minute show there were a few minutes of adverts and the majority of the adverts were about toys – all featuring their favourite characters, their favourite brands and things that were so familiar to them but things that they didn’t own. Things they immediately wanted.

I am well aware that LP and Little Man are incredibly fortunate with the amount of toys they get to review but we also have quite a high turnover of toys – reviewing them and then a few months later giving them to friends or the charity shop – only the most favoured ones are kept indefinitely. I don’t want the children to grow up spoilt and expecting things – they know that the toys we have are part of my job, they know a lot of other children don’t get everything they get and so they understand that we can’t keep everything that we’re sent, that other people might like and appreciate it instead.

The children also get pocket money and save it to then buy things with it and they always have two or three things to ask Father Christmas for – not huge lists but just a couple of things that they’d really love. But, adverts on TV make them want more. It makes that list of things they’d like get longer and longer and it makes them say they want things rather than they would like things. It’s all very me, me, me and want, want, want.

I don’t know whether it’s subliminal messaging or the music on the adverts but whatever it is turns the children into noisy, materialistic little people who have forgotten the value of things, have forgotten how much they already have and don’t appreciate that things need to be worked for or saved up to buy.

For me, adverts on children’s TV are a terrible thing. I work so hard to make the children understand that they can’t have everything that they would like the minute that they decide they want it. We work to make them understand the value of money, the concept of saving up for things and choosing wisely when they part with that money.

But then the adverts come on the TV and shatter everything the children have learnt and make them so blinkered that in that moment all they can see is that toy – and that is all that matters in life. In that moment they would swap their beloved cat for that toy and wouldn’t look back.

Those TV adverts are like drugs to a child and that is just another reason why we’ll be sticking with Netflix and moving away from commercial TV channels. A house without TV adverts is definitely a nicer one where the children are concerned.

The Headache of Adverts on Children's TV


  • Donna Wishart

    Donna Wishart is married to Dave and they have two children, Athena (12) and Troy (11). They live in Surrey with their two cats, Fred and George. Once a Bank Manager, Donna has been writing about everything from family finance to days out, travel and her favourite recipes since 2012. Donna is happiest either exploring somewhere new, with her camera in her hand and family by her side or snuggled up with a cat on her lap, reading a book and enjoying a nice cup of tea. She firmly believes that tea and cake can fix most things.

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  1. Bah I completely agree!!!! I had this exact conversation with Colette saying we haven’t watched “normal” tv in years and this is one of the reasons!!! We went to a family party on Saturday and they had the Smyths toy guide catalogue and all I heard from Sammy for 15 minutes was oooh I want this, ooh I’d want that. There were some I’d likes in there and I’d love this but overwhelmingly it became a want want want. Ugh! I know that one of my childhood memories is cutting up the Argos catalogue and being so excited but good grief it all adds up to so much money and it’s just too much! Mine wrote wish lists before they say the Smyths catalogue and on it are things they would really love rather than caught their eye in a glossy ad or magazine. Top of the lists Minion Fart Guns oh deary me!!! We haven’t started pocket money yet but I definitely think we will in the new year, so good to learn to save xxx

  2. When S was a baby we only ever watched CBeebies. Then we moved house, and our new house didn’t have an aerial at all – so for the first year we were here, we only watched Netflix and catch-up TV. So she had never seen any ads until she was 3 and a half, at which point we had Virgin Media installed and she wanted to watch Milkshake TV Shows.
    We’ve had a year now with ads and they seem to have become more and more prevalent. She’ll literally sit there when the ads are on, saying “I want that… I want that… I want that…” to whatever is on the screen – even if it’s a baby toy!
    We move house this weekend and I am sorely tempted to pretend there’s no live TV and we can only watch Netflix and catch-up TV!

  3. This is why we love Netflix, CBeebies and DVD’s (still old fashioned here ????) I cannot stand the ads, my kids just as you have said and it turns them into spoilt children in an instant. It was funny chatting with Harry in the car the other day, I said ‘I wonder where they sell that’ and Harry said ‘Argos mummy’ he got that from the ads. Aghhhh. Ban the ads on kids tv!

  4. We don’t really watch channels with adverts either and I agree it’s a total nightmare. In this day and age it’s not needed either, there are better ways of advertising than trying to appeal to young children during television ad breaks.

  5. Oh well said Donna!!! It has only through watching Netflix that I have noticed the same. Honestly it is incessant isn’t it? We barely watch ‘normal’ tv these days and the headache of adverts is definitely a reason never to return. x

  6. I completely agree with you. This time of year is the worst for adverts too. It’s all DVD’s & Netflix for us. My kids wouldn’t be interest in the majority of toys they ask for if it wasn’t for the mind-numbing adverts for them!

  7. Totally with you, in fact most of the time I have commercial TV shows recorded on Sky+ so I can fast forward through the adds for both Monkey and myself. They drive me insane, and think they create a ‘want want’ mentality in children that otherwise wouldn’t be there.

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