344.4 Children are joy

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 3:03 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Dalia LIRAN-ALPER , Communication, The college of management acadimic studies, Rishon Lezion, Israel
Orly TSARFATY , Communication, Academic College of Emeq Yezreel , Afula, Israel
Representations of Childhood and Children in Television Commercials in Israel

 The present study focuses on representations of childhood and children in Israeli society in commercials aired on commercial television from 2006 to 2011 against the backdrop of changes taking place in children’s status and family structure (e.g., . James, Jenks, & Prout, 1998; Corsaro, 1997). We would note that as early as the 1980s, Postman commented on the effects of television and commercials on the ‘disappearance of childhood’.

Commercials are popular texts that represent cultural and ideological perceptions in a given society. Conspicuous in existing research on commercials is the paucity of studies engaging in representations of childhood and children.

We shall present an extensive study with a corpus comprising four hundred commercials featuring children aged 4-12.

The findings indicate that changes that have taken place in Israeli society, in family structure, and in the child’s place are not accorded significant expression in commercials. There is no representation of alternative families or the diverse ethnic groups comprising Israeli society. The study also found that in terms of physical and verbal interaction, adults speak more than children do, and there is minimal physical contact between parents and children (contrary to expectations). The children’s touch focuses on the product, a finding that supports the primary objective of the commercial as a text designed to preserve the capitalist ideology currently being challenged in a global wave of social protest.

These findings support the perception of commercials as selling dreams, a desired and aspired-to model of childhood and family, rather than reflecting an existing reality. The child positioned at the center of the commercial symbolizes happiness identified with purchasing the advertised product, and casts an aura of achievement and the ‘good life’ over the adults around him.