Consuming Kids: The commercializaion of childhood(9 posts)
Glad I don't plan to have kids...also understand better the predicament of folks I know who have kids and are trying to raise them with good values.
I still think that parents have the most effect on this. I have three kids of my own, and most "consumerist" children I run into have consumerist-type parents who equate doing the best for your children with buying them the most expensive items with the most features.
The other thing I might add is that if you force your kids to hang out with wealthy, consumerist kids -- particularly in the so-called "best schools" -- you can expect they will cultivate some of those habits. What people think are the "right" environments for their children often are the wrong ones. The right ones should reflect your values, not your bank balances. Look for where the "strivers" send their kids, not the most well-to-do.
The main thing that is important to teach your children here is that happiness, satisfaction and good feelings about oneself come from what one does, not what one owns. You can instill this by being willing to spend on equipment, lessons, etc. that support their interests in sports, music, camping or other activities, but drawing the line on buying stuff just to have it. After they waste some of their own money on a few objects that don't give them much satisfaction and compare that to a "doing" experience, they begin to get the picture.
And when they do want to buy a particular thing, you need to discuss options and where they might get a better deal than the first place they look. While some children are more naturally frugal than others, they all seem to like the idea of outsmarting the retailers or finding a different solution than just buying something.
Okay, I suppose this is the obvious question, might as well be the one who asks it:
What makes people think this logic *only* applies to children, when all the evidence shows a similar effect occurs with adults?
I think the argument can be made that children are more malleable and open to suggestion than are adults who have more defenses up. Besides, kids being primed that way from early on will probably end up worse than their parent generation, since they' ll also be bombarded with ads their entire adult life, but be more vulnerable to their effects.
If that argument had any significant merit, then why has so much effort been put into marketing to adults, historically? I'm not saying that the impact isn't lessened, but all of the qualitative aspects remain -- none of the effects are reversed, and only some could be argued that they are lessened. For instance, 2-6 year olds don't exhibit as much violent behavior as adults no matter the media influence, so concerns should only grown stronger as people age.
Finally got around to watching this. Thank you for sharing this with us. I read all of this information from a book called "NurtureShock" some time ago. Perhaps this video is good for people not wanting (or have no time) to go through an entire book?
Your questions and points you raise are very good.
I see that one of the reasons children are more vulnerable than adults is because the thinking behind most of these marketing and other trends for children is a projection of grown ups' minds and grown ups' worlds into childrens' worlds! This is simply medically and scientifically not true. Childrens' brains, physiology, mental development, etc., are very different to adults. This is medically proven. This means that the effect is more drastic and more adverse on children and manifests at a later date with repercussions.
> why has so much effort been put into marketing
> to adults, historically?
This is true historically, but the film shows that children are being bombarded even more dangerously so.
There's also Martin Lindstrom's book called "Brandwashed"
which discusses these points at length.
1. Watching this made me appreciate my mothers' TV curfew while we grew up, and my own rejection of TV so much more now.
2. I have mixed feelings about "more regulation". It merely feeds into bureaucrats. I am from India, and my mistrust of governmental regulations run deep!
Also, regulation in itself is toothless. It is policing and the implementation that cause problems in most places. Then there is the muscle (cash) power of companies to get around regulation, roll them back, etc.
3. With two jobs, a fractured social capital, more and more nuclear families, "it is the responsibility of parents" don't cut it with that much conviction for me as well.
There must be a half-way house of points 2 and 3 for me in this particular case.
Ultimately to me, this sort of collective behaviour does boil down to "Is Humanity worth saving?" and I feel clearly, we don't deserve to be saved any more than a dodo or a river dolphin!
1. Jerry Mander and Neil Postman's books .
2. "NurtureShock" Bo Branson
3. "Brandwashed" Martin Lindstrom
Hey, where did my post go? Oh well, so here we go again.
The video makes the argument that there were laws in place to protect the children. I would suggest that another reason can be that adults are already exposed to the max with not enough growth potential there, so we now focus on children (maybe pets are the next trend?). I don't know if it's actually worse for children, but it could well be. The argument of greater brain plasticity at lower age works for me.
I don't want to downplay the results of advertising in adults. That's horrible enough as it is. :-)
My understanding of marketing has boiled down to this: Marketing is selling unhappiness, basically trying to make people unhappy in the state they currently are. Their goal is to induce the maximum unhappiness in the people they target, maximizing misery/dollar spent. The more misery you spread, the better a marketer you are. To quote from the video "Antisocial behavior in pursuit of a product is a good thing." It's an evil profession.
The cure is contentment. :-)
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