Friday, April 17th, 2009
The Commercialization of Childhood: What Parents Can Do
Consuming Kids is a documentary by the Media Education Foundation that looks at how marketers are manipulating children essentially from birth. Check out this 5-minute trailer.
A few choice quotes…
- “We’re creating a future generation of super consumers.”
- “That’s the basic consumer identity, it’s shallow, it’s about me, it’s about me now, and it’s about me and these things.”
- “How is this changing us? How is this changing our environment? How is this changing our society, and do we want this?”
This follow-up 9-minute video provides some tips for parents.
- Restrict the time your child has with commercialism (TV, Internet, etc.)
- Talk to them about advertising. How it works. Deconstruct it. When my 4-year-old daughter irrationally wants something, I explain how the person who made the product is trying to “trick” her into buying it. She thankfully understands the difference between “need” and “want.”
- When you say no to something, also say yes to something else that will be good for them.
- Spend time with family and friends (relationships).
- Teach about money: saving and managing it. Avoid immediate gratification/impulse buying.
- Teach them to be smart consumers. What’s a good product or deal? What’s a green product?
- Take issue with advertising in schools, churches, etc.
- Teach how marketers attempt to manipulate you. Be informed media consumers.
- Recognize that you are a role model. We create expectations in our children.
And lastly… If you think the issue is overblown, view the full hour documentary “strictly for purchase consideration.” Translation: it has a small viewing window with a “for preview only” label plastered on your screen.
It explains in detail how marketing to kids radically changed in the 1980s. The Federal Trade Commission was seriously considering a ban on advertising that targets young children and Congress responded by stripping the FTC of its power. With the flood gates opened, companies became very interested in how to most effectively manipulate young minds by any means necessary.