Cartoons, Ads and Children

It worries me when I see advertising geared towards children. Children are going to watch television, and the best you can do is monitor what they are watching, but then controlling content then becomes a tricky and laborious venture. The advertising companies are now playing hardball with your children. They are now inserting ads right into the content of the program itself becuase they know that almost everyone now has a PVR.

With the use of a PVR and some video editing software, editing out commercials is a snap.

Perhaps a correlation between the widespread use of PVRs, P2P downloading and sales of advertised goods could be made, but no one is certain with the economic meltdown that we are still experiencing. There are just too many variables to account for regarding the economic problems with businesses in North America. So, is it no wonder that now ads are popping up within the content of the programming—between the commercials. What is next?

Two years ago my friends up a SFU starting doing research on trying to measure the attention span of children through watching television. They found some early results, such as, commercials did play a significant part in how children interacted with their parents. They found that the control group, those who watched unedited television programming, were far more aggressive with their parents when it came time to obey daily activities such as bedtime and feeding times, than those who were put on a strict regiment of edited television content. Last year they were seeking approval from their ethics broad on going forward with the research, but I have not kept up with them since then. There data has still not being published, so I am assuming that they are still in the waiting process with the board.

As a side note, I heard them say that they were not sure as to whether it was the children, or the ad companies, that the ethics board was trying to protect? Universities and businesses really have a strange relationship.

Anyway, back to my point. I helped them set up a free, open source, video editing software that runs on Linux. The content is put onto a Linux box, then edited, and then put back onto the PVR hard drive. The pop-ads, as we call them, are just “pixiled” out with the latest, on the fly, editing software available. Smudging out the offending ads is really not that bad of a chore. We still cut or chop out the commercial, creating a bunch of smaller files, and then within each of smaller file we edit out the pop-up ads. To do a one hour program takes about ten minutes. If you have children, and you care about what they watch on television, then it is worthwhile precess.

I know, I am probably going to get a flood of emails on how to edit content on PVRs.  That is another topic for another day.

I am also keeping the name of the research and my friends anonymous until they get word back from the Ethics Board up at SFU. I hope they move forward with this. I am just so happy that I could be apart of it.

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