Wednesday, May 25, 2011

What I Think About: Selling My Children

You know, I would never put a "For Sale" sign on my kids and put them in the front yard to be purchased by the highest bidder.

Even though they can be cranky and sassy and down right disobedient, I love them.  They are mine.  I'm gonna keep them. 

But sometimes when I let my children watch TV, I sort of feel like I'm putting my kids--or at least their minds--up for sale.

Have you noticed how grossly advertisements target children--even babies--through commercials and product placement?  It's actually quite disgusting to me.

I mean, do my children really need Sketcher Twinkle Toes to go to school?  Does a Happy Meal actually make them happy?  Does M.E. need that Easy Bake Oven to make her a successful professional and will that Thomas the Train engine ensure Paxton will be a man's-man engineer?

I think not but millions of children don't understand the hidden messages and context of commercials.

I'm prone to taking a pretty critical look at "stuff" like this and I'm not exactly pleased with what my research is showing me.

For example:
  • Companies spend $17 billion dollars marketing items toward children in hope of producing life-long consumer loyalty.
  • Children under the age of 12 influence $500 billion dollars in materialistic purchases each year.
  • Children 2-11 see 25,000 commercials per year (which affects point 2).
  • Many advertisements promote sexual stereotypes (girls should be sexy and cook; boys build with Legos) and violence.
  • 63% of parents believe that their children's self-worth is defined by what they own.
Now many of you will say this is all harmless.  But really, think about this.  Why would companies spend BILLIONS of dollars trying to attract our children if that money didn't make a difference?

The short answer: They wouldn't!

Whether you want to believe it or not, these ads have an affect on buying habits, values, and even self-worth (you should see the data of eating disorders being linked to perceived beauty ideals promoted through TV shows, movies, magazines ....{Shudder}...).

Have you ever seen a toddler scream to buy a box of Mac-n-Cheese because Woody is on it?  The child doesn't know what s/he is buying but still "needs" it because Woody is selling it. 
Does your child need this brand or that character for the start of a new school year?
Has your 5 year old told you she needs to diet to be skinny like Ariel?

These ads--these "harmless" product placements in TV shows---they matter.  They affect our children whether we want them to or not.

What I think is that every time we turn on the TV, we put our kids up for sale!

Want to stop selling your children?  Get the facts.  Get resources.  Get involved.

Start here at the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.  <---click that link.  I double dog dare ya!

Thanks for hosting, Shell!

4 comments:

  1. I know! Lil is always talking to me about some commercial she's seen on tv, even though she watches a max of a half hour a day. The other day she quoted off the entire pajama jeans commercial b/c I told her she couldn't wear pjs all day.

    Anyhow, whenever she talks about some toy or Dora food that she NEEDS we have a conversation with her about the difference between wanting and needing and how it isn't good for people to get a bunch of stuff that they want.

    I love watching Mad Men because so often they point out how easy it is to get someone to believe they need something though ads ("you work hard deserve to treat yourself to xyz") when really it's something nobody NEEDS. And our kids see us getting what we see in commercials so it's only reasonable that they would copy our behavior.

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  2. Mine are still young enough that they like the commercial free children's channels. But I hear you about some of these other channels. A few times I've stopped by and it is one commercial after another. Frightening really!

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  3. My boys are definitely influenced by the commercials they see. It drives me crazy!

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  4. I feel for you. We only watch shows I have recorded from PBS but even those has some... (yup crazy mom)

    She is totally attracted to products with logos on it! Dora, princesses... it is crazy. (I saw a show once on kids and ads and most kids would pick a rock with a logo over a piece of fruit. Truly!)

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