Like most parents, I find advertising aimed at children to be bothersome. Call me old-fashioned, but I don't think the term "children" should be synonymous with "lucrative marketing age-bracket." But I also generally try not to get too riled up about it. Sure, the fact that 30 seconds exposure to commercial TV or the ads in most children's magazines can leave a kid convinced that he or she simply has to have a box of sugar-whammo-blammos for breakfast and must have the latest overpriced junky piece of plastic to play with does bug me, but I figure it also provides an opportunity to teach the concepts of critical thinking and money management. When all else fails, there's always, "No."
That said, I am extremely bothered by the print ad I saw last night in a children's magazine for a candy product line called "Toxic Waste." Some of the candies are described as "hazardously sour." Others have an image on them called "Mr. Toxie Head," who is grimacing.
Did anybody at this company actually think about what they were doing? Maybe their excuse is, "We're aiming our product at children old enough to realize we are kidding." But at what age are we supposed to assume our children know that Toxic doesn't really mean Toxic? Pardon me, but I think the correct answer is never.
Words such as toxic, poison, hazardous, flammable -- these are crucial words with specific meanings meant to identify known threats to our well-being. Many children as young as three can recognize letters and words. If a child that young receives candy that is labeled with the string of letters T O X I C, then the word "toxic" means "candy," and anything labeled toxic becomes instantly attractive.
Overreaction on my part? Perhaps. But I think the candy company should yank their product line now, before some young child consumes something poisonous. And shame on Boys' Life (and any other magazine that carries a Toxic Waste candy ad) for accepting the ad.