Group says "Transformers" advertisements targeting kids too young

Filed under: Media, Toys, Gadgets, That's Entertainment

A Boston-based child advocacy group filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission after finding ads and toys based on the PG-13 "Transformers" movie film aimed at children as young as 2 years old.

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is requesting the FTC work with the toy industry and media companies to develop a uniform rating system so toys tied to PG-13 movies not be marketed to children younger than 13. After monitoring the Nickelodeon cable channel Monday the group noted "Transformers" movie ads during the shows "Fairly Odd Parents" and "Jimmy Neutron," both rated TV-Y for all children, including those age 2 to 6. It also found ads during "Ned's Declassified," which is rated for children 7 and older. Tie-in toys from Hasbro are geared toward children as young as 3.

I was deep in my babysitter career when Transformers toys and the cartoon made their appearance in the mid-1980s. The toys themselves were on a Rubik's Cube-like complexity level, making me dependent on my young charges to do large portions of the transforming for me. When I sat, the Transformers were forced to use their fire-power in helpful ways, like to quickly slice up the tons of vegetables required for a Guinness Book of World Records pot of soup to feed a major city. (And later, to tunnel through the streets and blast the resultant sewer line blockages.) While I agree that barring the advertising of PG-13 movies during shows for younger children is logical, I find the tie-in toys less troubling. Kids can use toys in all sorts of imaginative ways, not just to re-create movie plot lines.

What do you think: Should the FTC crack down on both toys and ads aimed at kids younger than the movie rating or is this an instance of government being asked to do the job of a parent?

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.