Are Superbowl Ads Not Good for Kids?

“…I wasn’t too happy with ads for erectile-dysfunction drugs popping up every 15 minutes whenever I watched a football game with my daughters in the room.” ––Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope, 2006

NFL Commercial Superbowl LogoCommon Sense Media released a study on the content of TV ads & commercials shown during NFL game broadcasts. They studyed nearly 60 games covering 180 hours of game time coverage. Within that period there were nearly 6,000 commercials and the easy conclusion was that it is impossible to watch a single game without visually taking in messages of sex, violence or Viagra.

The CEO of Common Sense Media, James Steyer said “Nearly 5.3 million kids watch football each week, yet one in six of the ads shown during the broadcasts features content that’s wildly inappropriate for kids — that’s every other commercial break…”

“The game of football is great fun for families, but it can be really awkward for parents when they have to explain erectile dysfunction on a Sunday afternoon, or have to dive for the remote during violent promos for network shows. I know we speak for millions of football fans and parents everywhere when we say this situation is really getting ridiculous.“ — James Steyer CEO of Common Sense Media

Some statistics of note found in the report:
• 500 of the advertisements involved significant levels of violence, including gun fights, explosions, and murders
• 300 of the ads were for alcohol
• 80 of the advertisements involved significant levels of sexuality, including scenes about prostitution and strippers
• 44.7% of the violent or sexual advertisements were promotions by the networks for their own programs
• 40% of the games included advertisements for erectile-dysfunction drugs

Ronnie Lott, former San Francisco 49er and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, says “Football teaches kids a lot of great lessons… but families… should be able to watch these games without worrying that their kids will be bombarded with adult ads… ”

Pro football is well known to have cross appeal for a family. On Sunday afternoons it is a given that millions of families sit around the TV to root for their NFL teams. Most programs show during traditional family programming hours, however the ads tend to be catered towards adults.

“My son was walking around one day singing the Viagra jingle. He’s 9!” – Mother

Clean Cut Media – More Thoughts:
I think it is very important to take this up another level. I would dare say that these ads are not only inappropriate for kids but they are having a profound impact on our culture and thus to all adults. We may not want to admit it but media is feeding particular messages about sex, alcohol and violence not only to the younger generation but it has a clear influence in the way we [Adult’s] view the world. How is it that the networks are able to get away with such crude advertising? Because as a whole our culture has become more and more lenient on what is considered inappropriate and what is considered the norm. Scantily dressed women dancing in a beer commercial – it is so common place an average adult wouldn’t budge to cover their eyes or flip the channel especially if a child isn’t present, though many wouldn’t budge even if a child WAS present. Infomercials about shows where the characters sleep with every other character, have one night stands, live a seemingly glamorous and fun life – don’t you think these images have a profound impact in the way we view sex and how our lives should be? How about young women who only see skinny beautified celebrities and models on TV? Won’t that impact their self-image? More than 75% of girls in jr.high school already don’t like their body image! Does it seem surprising that depression is at record levels when all we see are exciting and happy lives both in commercials and in sitcoms?

It makes it extremely difficult to try to raise girls who have a positive self esteem and appropriate values when you have constantly explain why some people think it is perfectly normal to appear scantily clad on national television – Mother

Stop and Vote!
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Take Action
Want to do something about it? You can email the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and let him know your thoughts about the commercials.

Email Commissioner Roger Goodell Here

Common Sense Media is a nonpartisan, nonprofit resource that helps families and educators teach kids how to be safe and smart in today’s 24/7 media world.

Study PDF Here

Common Sense Media – Example Video of Superbowl Commercials
There is a video on the common sense media website and on youtube that they created with snapshots of the type of commercials that are shown. I decided against posting it here because I don’t want to promote the message whatsoever. But just imagine ridiculous violence, glorification of movie characters shooting with style, sex imagery, viagra commercials, commercials telling people to drink beer for the holidays with lot of happy people and you get the picture.

  • What is your opinion in the appropriateness of sports broadcast TV ads?
  • Do you think the commercials only affect just the younger generation or adults as well?
  • Would you ever consider shutting the TV off during infomercials or would that be too hard?
  • What do you make of the fact that there are commercials you would watch without hesitation that you would never let your children watch?

Share your thoughts below!

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  1. Couldn’t agree with you more. It is a shame! I’m almost at the point of boycotting all football games and other programs as well (like 60 minutes!!!) They are not worth exposing my kid to such material.

    1. Appreciate the Comment Sam. I just approved it.

      Glad to see others who feel the same way. My circle of friends often just turn the TV off during commercial, that has worked well for us. Forces us to socialize more too! 🙂

      Please come back and let us know your thoughts on other postings!

  2. I had a real problem with the Wolfman commercial being shown at 7 pm. My 7 year old son was totally traumatized, to the point where he was sweating and shaking. I’d never seen him react to anything like that before. Couldn’t they have aired this ad after 8 when little kids are less likely to be watching? Come on people, use a little common sense!

    1. sorry to hear that dcart! That’s terrible.

      At this point i don’t think we can really rely on networks to screen it for us since ultimately all that matters if the $ involved.

      One suggestions is perhaps just turn the TV altogether during commercial breaks?

      hope he is feeling better.

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