by Staff writer
Does TalkTalk’s recent marketing promote parental negligence?
Telecommunications provider TalkTalk have recently printed a new advert for their range of broadband packages. This is part of their ongoing marketing campaign called ‘Fairer Broadband for Everyone’, developed by ad agency The&Partnership. You may have seen the most recent version of the advert posted at a local bus stop or train station this month. It portrays a woman looking blankly down at her phone with a baby in her lap, who faces the camera. The caption reads “I’m a multi-tasker” to highlight the utility of the company’s strong internet connection for staying organised while on the go.
The majority of the immediate audience response to this particular advert from the campaign seems to have taken a starkly disapproving tone of the sentiment being expressed in the image. Many find the depiction of a young mother coldly ignoring her child to be disturbing and indicative of an unhealthy prioritisation of technological convenience over meaningful human connection. More directly, some have commented that TalkTalk appear to be celebrating neglectful parenting with this message.
These arguments are particularly compelling when considering the psychology of adverse parental attachment. The dangers of this are exemplified in Dr Edward Tronick’s still face experiment, which demonstrates, in summary, the degree of distress and confusion an infant will present with when their primary attachment figure fails to provide them with emotive cues to signify that they are acknowledging them. The study serves as a shocking demonstration of how impactful empathic connection is to a child’s cognitive development.
This principle forms key elements of the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics that we use to underpin our clinical practice. The NMT has been discussed at length in previous blog posts, and more information on how it is core to the work we do at JSA is available elsewhere on the website. With specific relation to this topic, however, our therapy is informed with the understanding that a child must receive consistent nurture and warmth in order to effectively regulate their emotions later in life.
To provide an opposing perspective, one might contend that the concern for over-using electronic devices around children is misplaced. It’s easy to argue that detractors of the campaign are adopting a reactionary attitude. Indeed, the lack of familial warmth during infancy is not a problem that originated in the information age. It may be reductive of broader social issues to direct blame for a lack of quality enrichment exclusively at the use of mobiles and tablets.
Despite this, TalkTalk do appear to have provided some indirect admission of guilt in response to the controversy. Though the promotional posters remain in the public eye at street-level, all mention of the advert has been removed from online promotion and social media. To see this in action, try searching “Talk Talk” and “I’m a multi-tasker” on google for a list of search results that are devoid of any relation to the campaign. It seems that the company themselves consider this advert to have been a regretfully distasteful representation of their brand, or at least an unflattering one.
Irrespective of intent or connotation, it’s unavoidable that the social benefit of greater engagement with the developing young people in our lives would be far reaching, and is in dire need. This certainly seems to be the crux of the more condemnatory perspectives currently being shared on social media, which suggests no small amount of merit to their accusations.