27. “Consuming Kids” and devouring childhood: Part 1 of 3

10 Nov

Whatever happened to the days when kids would play baseball outside until it got so dark they couldn’t see the ball anymore? Or they would hide in the bushes because they could hear their name being called for dinner but did not want to go inside yet? I am only 20 years old and I specifically remember the longing to hang out in the street with the neighbor kids for just 10 more minutes of freeze tag or hot lava monster. It seems as though it would take a power outage to get the youth of today off their butts and out into nature. The documentary “Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood” makes a very strong argument that the children of today are being strongly influenced by marketers and advertisers, therefore eliminating their childhood and potentially ruining their ability to be creative and imaginative.

This documentary uses very reliable sources, including child physiologists, professors and even Juliet Schor, author of Born to Buy, to show that ever since the deregulation of advertising, which occurred in the 1980s, children are being manipulated and forced to rely on materialistic goods and brand names for happiness and self satisfaction. There are two important factors in kids’ spending, the money that they spend on products and the influence they have on their parents spending. Kids directly influence adult spending, totaling to about $700 billion dollars. Dr. David Walsh, founder National Institute of Media and the Family, believes “the real money, related to the children’s market, is in their purchasing influence.” Marketers and advertisers are working now to influence kids’ purchasing decisions including cars, computers, cell phones and vacations. There is something called the “nag factor” which has a dramatic effect on parents and can also be seen in television shows and movies. Kids have a lot of power and marketers know it.

There is a brand in front of a kids face at every moment of every day. Kids are being buried in product placement and viral marketing, even at their schools. Ads can be found on the side of buses and on the walls of classrooms. Companies like Field Trip Factory are even promoting field trips for schools, not to the zoo or museum, but to stores like PetCo and Sports Authority. Children are being trained to multitask and because of this they are exposed to over 3000 brands a day. This documentary emphasizes the idea the young consumers’ brains are like sponges and advertisers are taking advantage of this. They want to get to them early and get to them often in hopes of creating brand loyalty at a young age.

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