Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Kids, Commericals & Stuff: Anti-Binge Spending

There's a $15 billion annual push to turn our kids into spending machines.

This item from Center for a New American Dream
contains some great tips about kids, spending, stuff and parenting.

Check this out:

"Problems and Solutions for Parenting in a Commercial Culture

Parents, meet the anti-parents: the new generation of children’s marketers. Modern children are inundated with a dizzying array of sales pitches in a variety of settings, hawking everything from electronics, to apparel to cosmetics and more. Laura Pavlides, mother of two boys in Glenwood, Maryland, says “The key to protecting her children from commercialism is by not having cable and making TV boring so they don’t think it is that great.”

$15 billion in advertising

The children’s advertising industry has swollen enormously over the past two decades. In 1983, it spent $100 million pitching products to kids, mainly through television ads. Today, it annually pours 150 times that amount—$15 billion—into a variety of mediums designed to seep into every corner of a child’s world.

And with each passing year, marketers strive to reach younger and younger audiences. In recent years, much of their attention has been focused on “tweens” between the ages of 8 and 12.

Targeting Toddlers

But advertisers are not stopping at tweens. They are stooping ever lower, making their pitches to budding consumers not yet out of diapers. According to child psychologist Allen Kanner: "The age of the children targeted is dropping rapidly." "It's about 2 years old now."

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that this relentless assault on their psyches is not good for children. New research suggests that aggressive marketing to kids contributes not only to excessive materialism, but also to a host of psychological and behavioral problems, including depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, childhood obesity, eating disorders, increased violence, and family stress.

What Are Some Steps Parents Can Take to Protect Kids from Harmful Advertisers?

- Television: Turn off the TV, or restrict TV time or content to programs with no commercials.

- Computer: Set limits on total screen time. Know where your kids are surfing and block inappropriate sites. Avoid unmonitored computer time for young children.

- Establish alternatives: According to a Center for a New American Dream poll, 69 percent of children ages 9-14 actually wish they could spend more time with their parents. The families who are most successful in keeping the corporate culture at bay find ways to spend time together away from the tube.

- Debunk advertising: Make a game out of dissecting commercials with your children, helping them to identify what is being sold and how they are being manipulated.

- Know your stuff: Teach your kids to be conscious consumers—to know where stuff comes from and know where it goes.

- Seek power in numbers: Talk to other parents in your school or social group as a support network. Work with other parents to stop commercialism in your schools and communities.

- Rediscover nature: Get outside. Teach your child about the connections within the natural world. Encourage kids to be physically active.

To download a free copy of the “Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture” visit"

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