Thursday, February 19, 2009

Pushing our kids to the marketing sharks

Several months ago, I was visiting some websites -- the online versions of local monthly magazines. Boy, was I astonished to realize that "pester power" was being pushed explicitly by a publication as something for marketers to take advantage of in order to sell their products. In other words, do everything you can to make kids pester their parents to buy, buy and buy what the little ones ask for. (I checked back at the publication's website -- the "pester power" angle had been taken out)

Bottom line: everything about childhood and childcare is being commercialized to the hilt. I wonder if parents are aware of this or are eating it all up and turning their preschoolers into consumers as well...

Here's some food for thought:

In the past, the major influences in children's lives were their parents, family and playmates - local children also influenced by the adults in their lives.

No matter what these adults' personal value systems, we can assume the vast majority cared about the long-term well-being of the infants they were rearing.

But in our brave new global village, parents and family are being pushed out of the picture.

According to a new Childwise survey, today's children spend up to six hours a day staring at a screen. So market forces increasingly influence their tastes and habits.

And marketing executives don't have children's welfare at heart - they just want to sell more stuff.

Little girls should be outside in the sunshine, laughing with their friends, playing imaginatively with whatever comes to hand - making dens, dressing up in old clothes and scraps of material, choosing the roles they play for themselves.

They shouldn't be glued to a screen, learning how to pester their parents for the latest must-have toy and being groomed for a lifetime of consumption.

Full article at Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood


John Jansen said...

Good post, this.

The whole issue of mass marketing to children hit home for me when I first saw a splendid documentary put out by PBS (the US's public broadcasting station) in the mid 90s called Affluenza. (It used to be on YouTube, but I see it's recently been pulled. The link I included does, however, provide an overview.)

One of the things it mentioned is that in the feverish game advertisers play to Always Be In Your Face, they've begun targeting kids at younger and younger ages (as the article you linked to also notes, of course). One thing about Affluenza in particular, I remember, is that it pointed out that school buses (and even schools themselves) had previously been one of the only ad-free zones in the US...but no more.

sunnyday said...

Yes, that's right. Even book fairs at schools include such materials as Bratz coloring books and stuff like that. If marketers could get even newborn babies to pester their parents to splurge for them, I'm sure they'd come up with a marketing campaign targeted at the tiny ones! :-)

I'll check out that link you gave. Thanks!

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