Toy Ads On TV - Facts For Consumers

Fast Facts

* Talk with your children about how to understand television advertisments for toys.
* Some toy ads may exaggerate a toy's performance.
* Some toys shown in TV ads may require special skills or practive before they can be used easily.
* Some toys may not be sold with all the pieces shown in the TV ad.

Toys advertised on television are often an important pars of a child's birthday and holiday wish list.

Television advertisements are an important source of information about toys. Ads show children new products and help illustrate how those products perform.

Some children, particularly younger ones, may have trouble discerning in an ad how a toy works outside its imaginary setting or whether toy parts are sold seperately.

To prevent disappointments, you may want to help children better understand what they see in television ads. As with all products, toys advertised on TV are made to appear as appealing as possible. You should point out that the purpose of advertising is to sell products; not all information about a toy may be contained in an ad.

Evaluating Television Ads

To help children evaluate toy advertisements, consider discussing the following points:

Toy ads exaggerate a toy's performance.

A toy on TV may appear to make elaborate sounds or move by itself when, in fact, it cannot. You could discuss how special sound effects, production techniques, camera work, or editing can be used to enhance a toy's operation. Many ads show toys being used in make-believe settings in ways that are unrepresentative of how they work in real life. You may want to help children focus on the part of the ad showing the toy's real-life operation.

Toys may require special skills or extensive practice.

In some ads, toys may look easy to play with or operate. In fact, they may require hours of practice before they can be used as shown. In addition, you may want to remind children that, because of differing levels of skills and talents, not all toys are appropriate for all children.

Toys may not be sold with all the pieces displayed in the ad.

You may want to help children determine what pieces actually come with a toy. Some toys may be shown with parts from more than one package while others may be depicted in elaborate play settings not readily duplicated at home. Children may want to watch and listen for such key phrases as "pieces sold seperately" or "no batteries included."

Toys may have to be assembled

Toys in ads may look ready to play with when, in fact, they require assembly. In some cases, the assembly may be difficult or time-consuming. Children may want to note whether an ad states "some assembly required."

Evaluating Toys

To enhance toy purchasing and gift giving occasions for everyone, you may want to consider the following:

* Talk with children about advertising. Encourage them to discuss with you the ads they see on TV> After you buy a toy, discuss whether it performs the way they thought it would. Ask what additional information they need to know about a toy before purchasing it or whether another toywould be a better toy.

* As with any product, find out information about a toy before purchasing it. Carefully examine the toy and its packaging in the store or ask friends for their experiences. Try to determine how the toy actually performs, what pieces come with it, and how much assembly is required.

* Check the recommended age level on the toy packaging. This is the manufacturer's guide to the appropriateness of the toy and skill level required.

For More Information

The Federal Trade Commission Act requires all toy advertising to be truthful and not misleading. If you have questions or concerns about toy advertisements, write to:

Correspondence Branch
Federal Trade Commission
Washington, D.C. 20580

These comments help the FTC in its enforcement efforts.

For additional information about children and advertising, you may want to write to:

Children's Advertising Review Unit (CARU)
Council of Better Business Bureau's, Inc.
845 Third Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10022

CARU was established by the advertising industry to review and evaluate children's advertising.

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