TV Ads for Toys: Whom Can You Trust?

A winning essay in the Rotary Club of Farmington Essay Contest.

By Joshua Mirolyuz

Grade 6

Teacher: Mrs. Bach

Time after time, I hear my little sister shouting loud enough to wake a bear a mile away, “Mom, Mom, I want that” as she points to an ad on the TV screen. “She doesn’t even know what it’s truly saying,” I think to myself as I watch this go on. All she sees are flashy colors and a fairytale coming to life. She only pays attention to the loud magical voices and ignores the rapid quieter voice at the end, stating that this toy doesn’t really come to life.

Isn’t that what commercials are all about? Most of them mislead children and use the child’s naïve imagination to sell the toys they are advertising. Just like my sister, I used to point to each of these glitzy ads with the same blindness.

When looking at the toys on commercials they always seem like they will remain intact forever. In reality, these toys break quite easily. Once when I was eight years old, I got a remote control toy helicopter that I saw on a flashy TV ad. This helicopter worked well at first, but not for long. I was flying it over the road, when all of a sudden . . . “Crash” . . . it came falling to the ground. Its wings were broken, and it never flew properly again.

Those commercials lured me and caught me like a rat in a trap. They made me want toys very similar to that helicopter that broke the next day. Like many other kids my age, I believed in what was shown on TV and wasted my parents’ money on a useless trinket. Now I know to use my resources and check on an item before purchasing it.

The level of difficulty of the assembly of the toy is often misleading on TV. These ads show someone putting it together with super-fast speed and having a completed product within seconds. In reality, the assembly could take from hours to days, then from days to weeks to finish. Many times, the product needs other materials and pieces that don’t come with the toy in order to complete the assembly.

I remember being very disappointed after buying a model airplane that I saw on TV. The assembly process looked pretty simple on the ad, but after three days of work, I wasn’t getting anywhere. More times than not when an ad shows a plaything, they are showing a finished product, and with a fine print that is hard to read, people are fooled daily.

Have you ever seen a person playing with a toy on TV that seems simple to use? This occurs often when, in fact, the average person may need a large amount of practice before being able to use it properly. Once I saw a commercial for a fuzzy snake-like puppet. The user on TV made the snake glide through his fingers and around his arm like it had come to life. I begged my mother for the toy, believing I could use it the same exact way. I was more than thrilled when I got it. But, although I had followed the directions accurately, I could not make it move like it did on the ad. The fine print was once again buried under all of the flashy colors and cool moves.

Why have I always begged my parents to get me a toy advertised over and over again? Perhaps it is because toy-making companies hire psychologists and specially trained cultural anthropologists to help make the toy ad look as desirable as possible for a child.

Some people believe that advertising to children is good for the future of our economy. After all, in 2000, children 12 and under influenced over $500 billion of family purchases. However, I believe that there are more honest ways of boosting our economy than by tricking young children with TV advertisements.

I wish our country would have specific and strict regulations when it comes to the toy commercials.  Maybe we shouldn’t go as far as Greece or Sweden who completely ban all ads to children under twelve, but there should be regulations to insure that toy companies are honestly presenting their products. 




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