Wednesday, August 27, 2008
In the meantime, watch Kermit the Frog report "live from the scene" in this classic Sesame Street episode. This is the kind of news I'd like to see more often, hehe. I'll be posting more videos, but right now I've got time for only one. Enjoy!
Monday, August 18, 2008
Someone's out to get your kids - and they mean business. A special PBS Frontline report named them "The Merchants of Cool" in their in-depth look at the aggressive marketing used to control how American teens spend their money.
At 33 million strong, today's generation of American teens represents the "hottest" consumer demographic ever, with far more spending power than their Boomer parents had - last year topping $100 billion.
If you missed "The Merchants of Cool," you can catch the complete 53-minute show here, along with a host of other chilling insights into how the media and big corporations target our teens by encouraging and selling to the weakest parts of their character.
Okay, so what's a parent - who needs more than a slingshot to battle the giants - to do?
You can counter the pressure of consumerism by helping your teens understand how susceptible we all are to advertising. Take product placement, for instance (type those two words in google and you'll find a heap of information). Product placement took off in 1982 when the movie E.T. portrayed the irresistible little alien following a trail of Reese's Pieces. Sales for the candy shot up immediately.
Now it's a rare film that doesn't add cash to its coffers with product placement contracts for everything from Huggies diapers to Starbucks coffee to DeLorean dream cars. Rates are structured depending on how the product appears. A can of Coke sitting on a table might cost the Coca Cola Company a certain amount, but if Tom Cruise picks it up and opens it, it costs a whole lot more. And if he actually brings it to his lips - well, you can imagine!
The more our kids know about the inner workings of the advertising world, the less susceptible they will be to such subliminal manipulation.
Here's a family discussion starter:
When it comes to TV: What is the product being sold? Who is the customer?
Your teen probably thinks as she watches TV that she's the customer, and that the ads she watches display the products being sold.
Not so! For television networks, the customers they serve are the advertisers. The product being sold is the viewer.
That's why the cost for a commercial can vary from $19 for a 30 second daytime spot on a local cable channel to $2,000,000. for the same amount of time during the Super Bowl, which attracts the largest television audience every year. The price paid by customer/advertiser is based on the number of viewers during that time slot - the same way we buy meat by the pound.
Encourage your kids to look at commercials with a critical eye, identifying what factors underlie the message: guilt, greed, manipulation, fear, flattery, status-seeking
And one final thought: Teens cannot learn to control their impulses for more, more, more if we say yes, yes, yes. Even if you have the money -or borrowing power - to buy your child everything he wants, it's really not the loving thing to do.
[From MommyLife archives September 20, 2005. Since I began blogging, I have logged over 3000 entries here. To find more any subject, please click Categories in the header.]Love,
Stumbled on Thingamababy via link-blogging and I happened to read this wonderfully thought-provoking piece on the whole princess thing. Don't forget to check out the comments!
Then a week or two ago, yet another manifestation of examined parenting on a variety of issues, from jewelry and electronic books to TV time and candy. Read "A comprehensive of all the things new parents don't really have control over, but attempt to control anyway"
1. Licensed characters — The Doras, Spidermen and Hello Kitties are restricted with rare exceptions. I don't see the need for them, or for marketers to be telling my kids what's important. We have Winnie the Pooh books and a Thomas the Train set, but our daughter hasn't interacted with those characters in other products or media.
Yesterday we were in a Target store when our daughter asked, "Why is Tigger on the shampoo?" I'm so proud of her. "Because someone who makes that product thinks it will sell better if they put that character on it."2. Candy, juice, soda and other sugary treats — Cake is for birthdays. Candy and juice are for special occasions. Life is so much easier, kids so much healthier and dental bills so much lighter when children don't expect and don't ask for sweet things.
17. Jewelry — Simple jewelry has been among the items in our daughter's dress-up bin since the beginning, but jewelry as a public accessory won't happen until age 13. Yeah, it's an arbitrary number. My belief is that jewelry as a means to make oneself attractive is a mature thing to be using, and I prefer to let kids embrace their childhood as long as possible. They have the rest of their lives to be adults.
Granted, our daughter's thought process is more like, "Ooh, it's sparkly, I want to wear it." A necklace is on the same level as stickers to her. However, wearing it is establishing a practice, a habit, an activity that carries well beyond toddlerhood. Today it's for one thing, tomorrow another. Right now, clothing mostly serves a utilitarian purpose for her, so I'm not about to give her high heels or a low-cut shirt just because she might (I hope not) consider them neat.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
Do you know that giving water to an infant is unnecessary and may even do more harm than good? Unknown to many, breast milk contains all the water that an infant will need and is thus the best source of water for the baby. When given a drink of water, the baby becomes full instead of taking in nutrient-rich milk that only mothers can provide. Even newborns are better off not being given water since they are born with extra water in their bodies and thereby feel no thirst at all.
This is just one of many facts about breastfeeding contained in Baby magazine's latest issue. To mark World Breastfeeding Month, Baby presents an info-packed issue with topics such as how to tell if baby is getting enough milk, nursing while on medication, tips for easier breastfeeding, and alternatives for moms who are unable to nurse.
Other articles in the August issue delve on skin care during pregnancy, maternity leaves, music and your preborn baby, tips on choosing a good crib, teaching your kids to behave in church, getting kids into sports, and money-saving strategies for these tight times.
One thing I'm getting a kick out of in this latest issue is the fashion spread that features nursing wear in such a "light and bubbly" way. Showcased in six pages are clothes by Procreation, Blissful Babes and Bosom Buddy that make breastfeeding more convenient and workable for moms even as they go about their business outside the home -- and have their tots in tow. You'll never guess these are nursing blouses because they fuse style and function so discreetly (and so brilliantly). Natasha Bautista's artwork enhances the photos immensely, and photographer Harvey Tapan's talent for directing subjects produced more than just great photos (just look at those animated facial expressions -- as if Denise, Cate and Lia were actually walking in the rain, amid puddles!). By the way, these three are not professional models but ordinary women who happen to be breastfeeding moms as well.
I do hope these pages do much more than bring nursing fashion in the spotlight, since much thought was poured into the elements in each scene. For instance, we specifically wanted to show the three crossing the street using the pedestrian lane. Now that is part of being a responsible citizen who considers how her actions affect society. And check out the little Philippine flag plastered on the jeepney. It's our way of highlighting our very own on Baby's pages, subtle though it may be.
Lots to read in this issue (don't I say that everytime? Tee-hee!), so go get yourself a copy. Where? SM Department stores nationwide (go to the baby section), major National bookstore outlets, Baby & Co. (The Podium and Power Plant Mall), Babyland (there's one in Robinsons Galleria, Greenhills V-Mall, Shaw Blvd, and others which I don't know about yet), the Shangri-la mall branch of Big & Small Co., and selected Mio Magazines and mag:net plus outlets.
More tidbits about this issue at Drawing Lines.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Let me start by saying that two of my colleagues have blogs of their own, which -- at one time or another -- have been mistaken for being Baby magazine's official website. I just found out that this superheroes blog I've had for the past three year has somewhat been given that status, misleading though it may be. But then I do end up blogging mostly about work-related, if not baby-care-related, concerns so it shouldn't be surprising that some readers assume this to be the magazine's online presence. Let me clarify: this is my personal blog. But as long as we're talking about work, I'll use this entry to clarify some more points which some parents who are looking to get their kids' photos published in the mag, may be interested in.
All photos sent to Baby magazine automatically become the property of the company and thereby may be used as deemed fit by the editorial team. No permission is required before publication, unless specifically stated by the persons who sent the photos. In cases like this, however, I'm certain that such photos will never make it to the pages of Baby because magazine production is guided by strict deadlines, and any possible causes of delay are eliminated. Seeking permission for using photos is one cause of delay. In between conceptualizing issues and stories, planning and coordinating pictorials, coordinating with writers, photographers, and artists, hunting down specialists and setting interview schedules with them, writing, editing, proofreading -- in other words, putting together a magazine (and a good one at that) -- spending precious minutes to get in touch with someone to obtain permission to use a photo is simply out of the question. Especially when other pictures are available for use. But more importantly, obtaining permission to use photos for editorial purposes (unless they're posted on websites and other similar instances) is simply not part of editorial policy.
So why, then, go through the trouble of picking out a picture from the emailbox when file photos are already there, or when friends are only too willing to provide the kind of photos we need? Here is the answer:
One thing we do that is not guided by policy is our continuing effort -- alongside our duties as journalists and artists -- to make parents happy. What parent will not be overjoyed by the sight of his/her child's picture in a national magazine? What parent -- who takes the time to have his/her child photographed and to send those photos month after month to our office -- will not feel a sense of pride and accomplishment upon setting eyes on even just one picture on a printed page, for all readers to see? The truth is, in the past several months whenever we decided to use one of the thousands of photos we now have, to accompany an article in the magazine, it's that consideration for parents that has been behind our decision. Apparently, good intentions don't always lead to good results, based on our experience. The usual response is gleeful recognition by the parents (or titos/titas); a couple of reactions have been negative. We therefore will have to rethink this special consideration we've been extending to parents. Probably being more stringent in our selection process is also in order.
Edit: On account of misinterpretations I've seen and to avoid further misinformation among parents, "to rethink this special consideration we've been extending to parents" means this: we will not use unsolicited photos in our articles for the time being -- unless they are from friends and acquaintances whom we are sure will not require being asked for permission, because they know enough about industry standards and know better than to impose what they think ought to be done. This is to avoid any more incidents involving parents who insist on being sought for permission before publishing photos of said parents' child. This will also hopefully discourage further posting of inaccurate statements in public fora that in any way mistakenly portray a situation wherein a parent and an editor had spoken with one another instead of the email exchange that transpired, and wherein parent supposedly somehow got her way, got editor to doubt current practice, and persuaded editor to go against established policies. Bottom line -- as most of us know, not everything will go the way we want it to. It's a life lesson I think all parents work to impart to their children, so in this case involving editorial guidelines, "in life, we will not always get our way" would be a good dictum to remember. The sooner it is accepted, the better for everyone.
Making parents happy is one thing we try to do -- only one of the many things. And we at Baby deal with many parents, many families, many specialists. The world does not revolve around any of them. The world does not revolve around us in the magazine. We are all partners in our goal to produce something month after month that will be worthy of being called an honest to goodness parenting magazine.
After this clarification and a tiny glimpse into what goes on in magazine production, hopefully parents will be guided accordingly and helped in keeping things in perspective. Then we at Baby will go on as usual, working to come up with a worthy read month after month, helping parents be the best they can be. That's what ultimately matters because babies, indeed, do not come with a manual.
By the way, here are my colleagues' blogs:
Where you put your eyes