The principal goal of commercial children's television is to sell products to children. Advertisers use two approaches to sell their products. The traditional method intersperses commercials in programs that are attractive to children to promote products unrelated to the program. Foods and toys constitute the two most frequently advertised product categories. The second approach, instituted in 1982, features toy action figures as the main characters of a program. Because these programs promote specific toys and are often developed by the marketing divisions of toy companies, they are more appropriately known as "program-length commercials."
Young children are unable to distinguish between programs and commercials and do not understand that commercials are designed to sell products.