Thinking of the (obese, cavity-ridden, materialistic, insecure, grasping, nagging) Children... for fun and profit!
September 19, 2005 1:46 AM   Subscribe

Won't somebody please think of the children? Oh, don't fool yourselves! Americans under the age of 12 now spend or influence the spending of $565 billion a year - up from $2.2 billion in 1968, and kid-spending has roughly doubled every ten years for the past three decades, tripling in the 1990s. Which means someone is always thinking of the children. The American Association of Pediatrics (pdf) cites this bludgeoning of kidvertising as creating in children "a fever for shopping and spending, swollen expectations about material needs, decreasing immunity to the assaults of advertisers, self-concepts defined by brands of clothing, and a rash of of debt by the time they leave college". [more...]
posted by taz (55 comments total)

 
And increasingly alarming is the wedge that advertisers are cynically driving between kids and their parents.

From the AAP page:
(Kid Power) Speakers talk freely of “owning,” “branding,” and “capturing” children, seemingly without a second thought about what those words mean. “Connecting with kids in the face of moms is a constant challenge,” says one Kid Power speaker. So marketers go behind Mom’s back. They refer to parents as “ gatekeepers” and offer tips to increase “ the nag factor,” so children will effectively pressure their folks to buy. They suggest rude and aggressive ads that make parents seem like fools. Paul Kurnit, founder of the KidShop marketing firm, teaches that “anti-social behavior in pursuit of a product is a good thing.”
More about The Nag Factor: "For parents of so-called "tweens," the problem is particularly severe - amazingly, more than ten percent of 12-13 year olds admit to asking their parents more than fifty times for products they've seen advertised".

As if modern families weren't already in enough peril. But in the eyes of kid marketers, "fractured families" are not so much a bad thing, as an opportunity:
# Splintered families mean more gift-giving relatives. Almost one in every six American children is someone's stepchild.

# Single-Parent Households: Children in single-parent households often make their first purchases almost a year earlier than those in two-parent households.

# Grandparents Became More Important: As parents became busier and away from their children more, grandparents started stepping in to help out. Grandparents are one of children's fastest-growing income sources.
Shouldn't something be done? From "Catch 'em Young":
"In 1978, the Federal Trade Commission attempted to limit advertising with a proposed ban on ads targeting children under 8, concluding that children are "too young to understand the selling purpose" of advertising. Congress blocked the ban, leading to the revocation of many of the FTC's powers. In 1980, the "FTC Improvements Act" was passed, restricting government oversight or regulation of child advertising. Today, it's actually harder to regulate advertising aimed at kids than at adults.

While the United States only imposes guidelines on responsible advertising for children, some European countries have imposed bans on advertisements directed toward children altogether.

Greece bans televised toy advertisements from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sweden and Norway have banned all advertising directed toward children under age 12. And on May 25, Italy proposed a ban on child advertising as well."
Also see Bush's War on Children: "When kids are pitted against corporate big money in Bush's Washington, it's the kids who lose. Kids are the new frontier of corporate marketing," and Does the US Chamber of Commerce Support Any Limits on Huckstering to Kids in School? (more on ads in schools.)

So, make no mistake. There are lots of people with power and money who are thinking about the children 24/7. For only $3,500 US, you can take advantage of some of that brain power to cash in using such neo-"baby-boom" facts as " Toddlers Use TV on Their Own" and " Boys Wield More Pester Power".

Or, if you are a concerned parent, you can check out the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, and peruse the Parents' Bill of Rights (pdf, related article here.)
posted by taz at 1:46 AM on September 19, 2005


The Swedish "ban" on advertising aimed at children is toothless I'm afraid. To quote myself.
If you look closely at this law it states that TV can not, take a break in children's programming to show adverts, nor "book-case" a childrens TV show such as the telly-tubbies with adverts before it begins and after it ends. This applies to television that is broadcast to Sweden from Sweden. However, the popular channels TV3 which first broadcast on new years eve in 1987, and TV 5 which was born in 1989 are both aired from the United Kingdom, and thus follow UK advertising laws.

In other words, children's programming has been intertwined with advertising aimed at children for the last 18 years. [in Sweden]
Even got into an argument with the director of ANA here about this as that "ban" is far too often used as an example to support the idea that ad bans have no effect. If the ban doesn't actually do anything of course it has no effect. Do'h.
posted by dabitch at 2:28 AM on September 19, 2005


I'm also not enitely convinced of the stringency of the Greek limitations; I'm going to have to start paying specific attention now.

For the most part, yeah... come to think of it, I really don't see much advertising for toys, but I'm pretty sure these rules must be officially relaxed at the Christmas and Easter seasons, because I recall seeing floods - nay torrents - of toy ads around these times. And the limitations that exist don't address food advertising as far as I can tell, which is also a huge, huge kidmarket. Must. Watch. Closer.
posted by taz at 2:41 AM on September 19, 2005


It's a good thing kids are so much happier nowadays than they were thirty, fourty years ago. Must be the Furbies.
posted by ori at 2:48 AM on September 19, 2005


Must. Watch. Closer.
Pick up a Greek Donald Duck magazine or any other cartoon aimed at "kids of all ages", that seven year olds and tweens alike read. There are probably ads in them, just like in Swedish ones. Ban? rrright. This is one ban that should simply be called "restrictions", as it talks about specific media ads (TV), and specific hours (childrens programming hour). Everywhere else and any other time it's fair game to advertise kids stuff and say "we targeted said ad at the parents, not the child."
(Speaking of Swedens "ban" specifically.)
posted by dabitch at 2:57 AM on September 19, 2005


Why would anyone let their child watch TV anyway?
Is there any cultural or informational content that is available through TV and not through the Internet, a newspaper or the local library?

Judging from this (excellent) post, letting your kids watch TV is like letting them hang out with drug pushers, i.e. highly irresponsible.

Maybe I don't understand because I don't have children?
posted by spazzm at 3:12 AM on September 19, 2005


Even if parents' exert restrictions on their children's television viewing habits, kids are being targeted everywhere... Including in schools (pdf), where corporations provide free equipment, supplies and educational materials in exchange for advertising, and fast food and soft drink companies have contracts to sell food and beverages. There is advertising on school property, on school buses and on textbooks.

See Sex Ed, Provided By Old Spice, for example.
posted by taz at 3:25 AM on September 19, 2005


spazzm:
You can keep kids from TV, but that isn't without an impact on their social lives. My partner grew up without it, and while this was a Good Thing in many ways, it did make him a social outsider. TV is something that gets talked about amongst the kids.

Marketing to kids is only slightly less evil than sexual exploitation, as far as I'm concerned. Both damage self image.
posted by Goofyy at 3:29 AM on September 19, 2005


As parents of 2(soon to be 3) children, ages 5 and under, here's what we do to avoid this:

-Limit their TV viewing to a reasonable amount of time in the first place.
-Direct the majority of their TV time towards "NOGGIN", which is commercial-free, and IMO has some of the best children's programing available besides. Nickelodeon and Disney are right out, in our house.
-If for some reason we allow them to watch something on a channel that does air commercials, we simply don't allow them to watch the commercials.

This all works very well for us. We get a minimum of in-store griping, it's easily squelched when it does pop up, and the kids are much more appreciative when they do get to pick out a new toy.
posted by spirit72 at 3:36 AM on September 19, 2005


We decided that we couldn't deal with the TV driven demands we were getting, so we got rid of cable.
The kids can watch DVDs, play games and have (supervised) net time, but network and cable TV are just gone.
It took some getting used to but the atmosphere at home is much more pleasant.
posted by thatwhichfalls at 3:41 AM on September 19, 2005


Just say no.

Instill in your children early on the idea that they can't have everything they see nor everything they want and drive home the difference between needs and wants. Teach them the value of money (and remind them that money "doesn't grow on trees" often). And just say no. It's really that simple.

My kids (15 and 12) are able to watch tv or see what their friends have without whining for all that stuff. My daughter is definitely more materialistic than her brother, but now that she has a job and has to spend her own money, that's toned down considerably. Nothing teaches a kid the value of money faster than having to spend their own.
posted by grey_flap at 4:22 AM on September 19, 2005


'My son was eleven, and had a Prada wallet and a Stussy camouflage eye patch and a Lacoste sweatband clung to his wrist and he had wanted to start an astronomy club but due to lack of interest among his peers it never materialized and his favorite songs had the world flying in the title, and all of this saddened me."

-- Bret Easton Ellis, 'Lunar Park'
posted by matteo at 4:43 AM on September 19, 2005


I don't even have children myself, but I have a two-year old nephew... and an incredibly wise sister-in-law who told me when he was an infant, "please don't bring gifts when we see you - I don't want him to associate visits and people with "things" and gifts. (Though sometimes I bring gifts that I give to her privately to give to him at some unspecified future "rainy day" time.)

And she is right - amongst all these links, somewhere was the factoid that children rated the people they knew by gifts they gave them, and that the more expensive the gifts were, the higher their approval rating of that person.
posted by taz at 5:00 AM on September 19, 2005


I always thought that such things should be mentioned alongside "pedophia".
posted by foodeater at 5:27 AM on September 19, 2005


er...."pedophilia"
posted by foodeater at 5:28 AM on September 19, 2005


Goofyy:"Good Thing in many ways, it did make him a social outsider. TV is something that gets talked about amongst the kids."

Ah, that's allright then. If heredity is all it's cranked up to be, I don't expect my kids to have any social skills anyway.
posted by spazzm at 5:46 AM on September 19, 2005


There was a big section about this in the movie "The Corporation." Really took me out of what was an otherwise spot-on flick.

My thought is, you can shelter your kid from TV and computers, but they'll be exposed anyway. We live in a consumer society. Ads are a part of our life. If they don't learn to ignore them when they're young, when will they? (Similarly, I know I'm not supposed to say the F-word around our four-year-old, but we live in New York. He's gonna pick it up.)

Channels such as Noggin or PBS Kids actually have no ads, but then, couldn't you consider the show big ads? I mean, your kid could nag you for Elmo dolls or Dora toys too.

I say let the kid watch TV, but in moderation. An hour a day, max. Don't let the TV become your babysitter. And if the kid nags you for something, don't buy it.
posted by fungible at 6:10 AM on September 19, 2005


taz: amongst all these links, somewhere was the factoid that children rated the people they knew by gifts they gave them

Where did you see that?
posted by pracowity at 6:12 AM on September 19, 2005


fungible: I say let the kid watch TV, but in moderation. An hour a day, max.

But that's a pain in the ass to control unless you like being the TV police when you'd rather be calmly reading or writing or listening to music in another room.

A token-operated TV would be very cool for everyone in the family. Everyone gets a weekly allowance (presumably self-determined for adults) and that's all you watch that week. If you're paying, you decide what everyone watches. If there's a fight over programs playing at the same time, the highest bidder gets the remote.
posted by pracowity at 6:19 AM on September 19, 2005


pracowity - that is a brilliant idea!
posted by thatwhichfalls at 6:26 AM on September 19, 2005


The thing is, television is only part of the battle. This is seriously big money, and the goal is to saturate every layer of a child's existence. If you think about it, a typical child is bombarded with advertising from the time they get up and have their ultrahyped cereal (Did you know that Americans eat so much cereal each year that a chain of the empty boxes would stretch all the way to the moon and back? Cereal is big business, and cereal makers work hard to sell it.) to the time they go to sleep on their Disney branded sheets at night, there is almost no moment in which they aren't being bombarded with advertising of one sort or another.

Marketing research includes meticulous monitoring and observation of kids everywhere, all the time, including some kid-subjects at home during their own private time, to see what attracts them, what catches their eye, how much time they spend at one diversion or another... etc. It's really heavyduty stuff.

One of the most shocking things to me is the extent to which schools have been shaped to become advertising/marketing tools. In addition to the links mentioned above, here's the latest Annual Report on Schoolhouse Commercialism Trends (pdf) from CERU (Commercialism in Education Research Unit).

By the way, that cereal link above is from "Don't Buy It" from pbskids.org, which those with children might want to check out together.
posted by taz at 6:27 AM on September 19, 2005


taz: amongst all these links, somewhere was the factoid that children rated the people they knew by gifts they gave them

Where did you see that?


Sorry, pracowity, I'm not sure. I've read so much stuff on this... The links I included here are only, maybe, a fifth of all the stuff I had bookmarked. I'll see if I can find it again. It stood out to me especially.
posted by taz at 6:30 AM on September 19, 2005


The Swedish "ban" on advertising aimed at children is toothless I'm afraid.

A little clarification dabitch. According to Lag (1991:2027) om kabelsändningar till allmänheten:

11 § En annons med reklam som sänds under annonstid i en televisionssändning får inte syfta till att fånga uppmärksamheten hos barn under 12 år.

11 § An advertisement which is sent during the commercial break in a television broadcast may not be directed to capturing the attention of children under 12 years of age.

I annonser med reklam som sänds under annonstid i en televisionssändning får det inte uppträda personer eller figurer som spelar en framträdande roll i televisionsprogram som huvudsakligen vänder sig till barn under 12 år.

In advertisements which are sent during the commercial break of television broadcasts no people or figures that appear in children's television programs may be used.

This particular law applies to what may be broadcast over the the cable TV network.
posted by three blind mice at 6:39 AM on September 19, 2005


Pracowity, this is not the exact thing I read about children approval ratings and giftgivers, but this page from a kids marketing group mentions it:
Children may not show their gratitude like adults, but they tell us they like those who give them things and are fondest of the biggest giver.

The Kids Market: Myths and Realities
James U. McNeal, Ph.D.
By the way, another thing that struck me was something we haven't mentioned here yet, which is the unbridled consumerism of parents themselves, or first world culture as a whole, but especially America. In fact, my whole interest in this thing began with the PBS Affluenza documentary (interesting quiz-type overview here).

Shopping is such an ingrained activity/entertainment/solace in most people's lives that mothers begin taking their children to the mall at around the age of two months (another factoid that I can't put my link finger on right now), so it's no wonder that - even aside from the efforts of advertisers/marketers - kids grow up viewing mad consumption as a natural pursuit.
posted by taz at 7:05 AM on September 19, 2005


Spirit 72, we're pretty the same in our house. We're also big fans of Discovery Kids. I also refuse to buy any article of clothing with a character on it. Character-based toys are restricted to her absolute favorites (Buzz and Woody).

Frankly, I love tv (and movies, music and books). I don't want to cut her off from pop culture completely. In fact, we just got back from Disney World (the most consumerist place on earth). She had no idea who half those characters were, but was thrilled to be able to ride rollercoasters all day. Her absolute favorite part of the whole trip was feeding the stingrays at Sea World.

To borrow a phrase from our fundamentalist friends, I want her to be "in" the world, but not "of" the world.
posted by jrossi4r at 7:15 AM on September 19, 2005


Great post, taz! Here's a somewhat related one.

Just want to respond briefly to fungible's "If they don't learn to ignore them when they're young, when will they?" rhetorical question. This is a common objection to "sheltering" kids from the extremes of consumer society, and, to put it bluntly, it's bogus. If today's adults, who grew up on ads, have learned from that to ignore them, advertising to adults wouldn't work! Without any evidence to the contrary one would have to conclude that early exposure to consumerism merely reinforces, rather than inoculates against, consumerism. And if there is any evidence of "sheltered" kids being more easily taken in by advertising as adults, I'd love to see it.

That said, my kids, when they're home, do watch about an hour of TV...


.. a year.

On Christmas Eve. No, really.
posted by soyjoy at 7:29 AM on September 19, 2005


pracowity said: "A token-operated TV..."

Oh, do I want that. Also, an internet connection token system for my MySpace addicted daughter.
posted by cccorlew at 7:32 AM on September 19, 2005


three blind mice, I know the law by heart, no need to clarify it for me. Do note that it can't touch things not aired in Sweden the way that it is written which is what I gripe about (if that wasn't clear). If you won't take my word for it, perhaps communications professor Erling Bjurström's will do:
"The law is there to protect [children]. But, in reality, Sweden's ban hasn't worked completely."

While the state-run television channels SVT1 and TV2 and semi-public channel TV4 do not broadcast commercials aimed at children, "the two major private networks, TV3 and Kanal 5, use a loophole in the law" and broadcast by satellite from Britain.

"And the (Swedish) government can't do anything about it."
posted by dabitch at 7:33 AM on September 19, 2005


PS: three blind mice, are you aware that you are linking to 1991's law that has been annulled? It changed in 1994.
posted by dabitch at 7:44 AM on September 19, 2005


I’d rather have a kid who was a social outcast than one who’d be a virtual guinea pig for the ad agencies; if this is where society’s headed then maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be an outcast after all.

(We’ve got a neighbourhood over here which doesn’t allow any cable or satellite connections on its premises, and when my dad had suggested the idea in response to the moral decay that was clouding the air waves these days [one of his pet peeves], I was prompt to shoot it down as a case of mass censorship. But after reading what taz had to post I’m not so sure anymore.

What would be even better is if you could filter out all the unwanted material from these programmes and just watch the content that’s worth watching—is there any software available that’s capable of doing this—and hopefully be able to guide your children away from the more subversive parts of the advertising within the programming.)

Something similar to what jrossi4r and the others have mentioned.
posted by MoralAnimal at 7:49 AM on September 19, 2005


pracowity said: "A token-operated TV..."

Oh, do I want that. Also, an internet connection token system for my MySpace addicted daughter.


Solution to consumerism: purchase new product (yes, I realize it is an imagined product).
posted by a_day_late at 7:53 AM on September 19, 2005


About token-operated TV: I just googled it and it exists. I have no idea whether this implementation is any good, but it sounds a lot like what I suggested.
posted by pracowity at 7:55 AM on September 19, 2005


You can't really legislate against this sort of thing effectively; there's just too much money to be made, and there's always a loophole. If you don't want your kids to be slaves to the marketing industry, it's up to you to help them build immunity against advertising. Our son is 3, and he knows what a commercial is, understands how even though the products are real, the things you see in commercials are pretend, especially in regards to how cool a toy is or how good a cereal tastes.

In general, I think the most important gift a parent can give a child is a healthy sense of skepticism. This world sorely needs a less credulous populace.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to get back to drooling over the latest Nintendo controller.
posted by ulotrichous at 8:00 AM on September 19, 2005


When my kids were little, I would totally snark on commercials that obviously played to them. I'd imitate the little kids that were so happy to have the latest doll or the latest electronic whosis, and make sarcastic or humorous comments that made my kids laugh. As they got older, they started doing it too. They saw through all of the ad ploys and never asked for anything they saw on TV. Not that this would work for everyone.
posted by iconomy at 8:00 AM on September 19, 2005


Kids have to learn this stuff for themselves. I know I did when I learned that the Sweet Pickles Bus wasn't coming to my house if I placed an order.
posted by dr_dank at 8:19 AM on September 19, 2005


Just another terrifying quick-fact: According to kids marketing guru, psychologist James McNeal, "At six months of age, the same age they are imitating simple sounds like 'mama,' babies are forming mental images of corporate logos and mascots”

It's not so terrifying that infants have this ability, but it's seriously freaky that marketers are compiling and utilising this sort of information in their shock-and-awe-inspiring campaigns to start "capturing" and "branding" kids literally from birth. So if you are a parent determined to fight back, you'd better start from day one - or earlier!

Marketing to Babies and Toddlers (pdf):
• Clothes, mobiles, crib toys and even diapers featuring brand logos or licensed media characters such as Elmo or Spiderman are now commonplace.

• This type of marketing helps ensure that babies will recognize and request similarly adorned products ranging from cereal to stuffed toys as their verbal skills evolve. According to marketing industry research, babies are requesting brands as soon as they can speak.
posted by taz at 8:32 AM on September 19, 2005


So much great information here. Thanks, taz. I just wanted to point out a Salon article from 2000 about psychologists who are hired by corporations to work on advertising targeting children. I know that American Psychological Association was at war internally on whether to kick out members who did this kind of work but I don't know if they ever decided on a course of action.

While I'd like to think keeping the television off would solve this problem, marketers have so many devious ways of grooming our children for consumerism. In Illinois, a few years back (if I do remember correctly), there was an uproar over school field trips to business, like say the grocery store, where children practiced being little consumers.

A friend told me that her son's school has a promotion that for every book he reads, he gets a pizza point, and when he accrues enough points, he gets a free pizza from a national chain. (Of course, as soon as the program started, he began begging to go.) She said he gets lots of goodies too featuring popular cartoon characters that are branded--stuff like pencil cases with Winnie the Pooh and Honey Cheerios. It's all so nefarious.
posted by Sully6 at 8:33 AM on September 19, 2005


Sully6, those reading/pizza point programs have been going on for something close to two decades, as far as I can tell. Maybe longer. When I was in elementary school, I acrued a pretty huge number of Pizza Hut points, although I think I used almost none of them, because I thought that Pizza Hut pizza was pretty disgusting. Certainly a nefarious program, though, and I'm not really sure how much it actually did to get kids to enjoy reading.
posted by ubersturm at 8:45 AM on September 19, 2005


I'm all for good parenting and parental responsibility, but people who advertise to children deserve to be locked up. Seriously, its that harsh. They're worse than pedophiles. A pedophile might molest a few children, but these corporations reach thousands and millions. No one, not one single person in this world, has any moral conscience who advertises to children. They are pigs devoid of any human rights and should be locked up and our legislators should be too for allowing this to happen.
posted by PigAlien at 9:39 AM on September 19, 2005


PigAlien, since you so dislike those who advertise to children, what do you think of those who advertise through children, like for example the GIA (Girls Intelligence Agency)?
posted by dabitch at 10:19 AM on September 19, 2005


Just as bad. What's the arch-stereotype of a child molester? "Here, little boy (girl), would you like some candy?" I can't watch a single commercial aimed at children which doesn't make me sick. Adults, fully aware of what they're doing, exploiting the innocence and naivete of children to manipulate their parents. Its disgusting. Of course, child molesters affect whole families, but not nearly as overtly as these advertisers who target children. They're scumbags, in the highest sense of the word.
posted by PigAlien at 10:25 AM on September 19, 2005


I actually work for a company that's one of the leaders in youth (12-24) marketing/advertising. Am I going to hell?

"focus groups are fun"

-f
posted by fet at 10:42 AM on September 19, 2005


Re: token operated TVs:
You can buy TVs that can shut themselves off with a timer, so you can set it for a child to watch for a hour or half hour or so before the set shuts itself off.

Of course, you'll have to teach them not to immediately turn the set back on, but that's why you're a parent.
posted by Down10 at 10:44 AM on September 19, 2005


I don't believe in hell, nor do I believe in personal attacks, fet. I will stick by my generalization though. Your company should be outlawed and you should lose your job, I'll say that much.
posted by PigAlien at 10:47 AM on September 19, 2005


And, by the way, young adults, i.e. 16+ do not count as children, fet, and this discussion is about advertising to children.
posted by PigAlien at 10:51 AM on September 19, 2005


Hey! Viral marketing for kidlets. Good article here that talks about GIA that dabitch mentions, and their "Slumber Party in a Box" viral events.

And more in-depth info generally in the report Childhood for Sale: Consumer Culture’s Bid for Our Kids. (Missed this earlier!)

On viral marketing:
Companies sometimes hire influential, trendsetting young people to promote products among their friends— spreading the word like a virus. In order to find these “alpha kids,” as they are known, companies scour public places where kids congregate, such as playgrounds, malls, coffee shops, and arcades. They study kids’ behavior and conduct interviews with them, their teachers, and parents to identify the coolest kids.40 Companies then recruit those alpha kids to tout products among their peers by word-of-mouth. The recruits are typically paid or given other compensation (such as free products or coupons), and are not required to inform their peers that they are serving as de facto salespeople. Viral marketing promotes the exclusivity of a product and heightens children’s desire to be among the first to have it. This technique is often used on older children and teens who are generally skeptical of, or likely to ignore, TV or print advertisements and are more likely to view their peers as credible and honest sources. Other viral marketing techniques include using online chat rooms to push a product, or giving free samples, especially clothing, to celebrities or other respected figures to wear or “flash” in public.
posted by taz at 11:14 AM on September 19, 2005


What about this tivo thingy, will that not allow for advert censorship?
Alternatively, a TV card in the PC and a DVD writer. If there is not software designed to remove adverts now, there will be next week.

When I was at school as a teenager, we had a teacher who liked to start the (English) lesson with a 10 minute chat with the students on the subject of her choice. It was a transparent ruse to cut down on chatting during the lesson from an individual with little ability for disciplining students, but also interesting.
One day the subject was advertising and its effects on us. Various people put their hands up and said that adverts for food made them feel hungry, or adverts for a particular product made them more likely to ask for it when given the choice, logo reccognition etc., etc.
When I was asked my opinion, I said that from my point of view any company advertising on television clearly had more money than they knew what to do with and therefore they didn't need any more sales. I added that the very concept of advertising a product seemed a bit ass-backward, as if it were a good (generic) product people would know about and use it any way. Advertising something made me suspicious of the claims in the advert, and subsequently less likely to purchase. This was not what the teacher wanted to hear and I was summarily ignored. Not a good teacher.
/told that story too many times
posted by asok at 11:27 AM on September 19, 2005


I dunno about a token-operated TV, but when the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Alums and I became parents, I tried to sell her on the idea of "TV tickets" -- we'd issue our son tickets to ride the "TV train" in half-hour increments, varying the number of tickets available according his age and his recent behavior. Mrs., a professional educator and lifelong TV addict, scoffed at the idea as unreasonable and impractical. Our son, a Pokemon fanatic (I started to type 'addict'), watches Cartoon Network for hours daily.
posted by alumshubby at 11:39 AM on September 19, 2005


> watches Cartoon Network for hours daily.

If you have kids, having Cartoon Network in the house is like leaving kiddie heroin lying around. It's fine to claim that parents should just be able to say, "No, kids, you should use heroin only in moderation," but Junior is always strung out Captain Mainline in no time.
posted by pracowity at 12:23 PM on September 19, 2005



What about this tivo thingy, will that not allow for advert censorship?

nope, Tivo is advertisers best friend, they just lulled y'all into a false sense of security for a while. These days they pioneer new types of pop-ups, banner ads that appear over shows and when you fast forward and other irksome ad-madness special in their boxes, and they sell customized reports on viewing patterns to people who wanna know (usually advertisers).


posted by dabitch at 1:09 PM on September 19, 2005


My thought is, you can shelter your kid from TV and computers, but they'll be exposed anyway. We live in a consumer society. Ads are a part of our life. If they don't learn to ignore them when they're young, when will they?

posted by fungible at 6:10 AM PST on September 19 [!]

I think you have this wrong. Throwing a kid into the ocean isn't the way to teach them to swim.

It wasn't till I was in my mid-teens that I became truly weary of advertisements. This wasn't the result of years of experience with ads, but maturity and education (a nod to the excellent Zillions, consumer reports for kids mag, too).

I don't think that children have the ability to think critically of ads in an effective way. Worse, their incorrigible little minds can and will be deeply effected by repeated materials much more than adults who are more equipped to tune things out.

For all of you folks who just don't let their kids watch tv or limit it, great. But what about latchkey kids or kids growing up with less than fit parents? I guess tv keeps the off drugs for a while? Anyone who's familiar with the lower middle class in the US has witnessed the amazingly self-destructive materialism in the youth culture. Lots of poor kids of all races spending money (their parents' or their own) on designer clothes, custom cars, and personal electronics. Coincidence?
posted by es_de_bah at 2:05 PM on September 19, 2005


I'd forgotten about Zillions! Too bad that great magazine had to end.
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:22 PM on September 19, 2005


Where are all these advertisements we're talking about?

When I was kid, I remember the cartoon hours after school (30 minute animated commercials) with advertisements for the toys (and the kool-aid man) in between.
Likewise, on saturday morning, the cartoons were interspersed with the endless variety of cereal advertisements with the occasional toy thrown in.

Now that I'm older, I haven't seen a cereal advertisement for years (other than those incredibly annoying "healthy" "adult" cereals).

Am I just looking in the wrong place? Not watching Cartoon Network at the right time? Do they really play those cheesy GI Joe live action commercials(Action simulated) or the 00's equivalent somewhere?
posted by madajb at 2:32 PM on September 19, 2005


Excellent post, taz.

By the way, another thing that struck me was something we haven't mentioned here yet, which is the unbridled consumerism of parents themselves, or first world culture as a whole, but especially America. In fact, my whole interest in this thing began with the PBS Affluenza documentary (interesting quiz-type overview here).

You might also be interested in this book: American Mania.
posted by homunculus at 4:00 PM on September 19, 2005


thanks, homunculus - this is exactly the sort of thing I've been reading about (on the net, mostly) and interested in lately. Weird times.
posted by taz at 5:34 AM on September 20, 2005


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