Parents need to be as consumed with their kids as the corporations are

By Susan Frasca

They had me at “hello.”

Who could argue the validity of the claims and observations made in Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood?  The statistics are well-known, from the rise in childhood health issues to the billions of dollars companies make from innocent, unsuspecting child consumers – well, more accurately, from their parents.

Brain scans, blink tests, a Girls Intelligence Agency?  The lengths to which marketers and corporations will go to ensure the best possible methods to relay their message are almost unconscionable. Almost.

Marketers and businesses aren’t in business because they have a conscience. They go to extraordinary lengths to succeed at what is of the utmost importance to them. Their job is to profoundly impact what a child thinks he wants and needs. Companies are willing to spend a substantial amount of money and time to build a relationship with the child now so that child will be with them tomorrow.

It’s really not a question of their ethics, but a test of parental resolve.

It may be unpopular to say this, but parents must be willing to go to the same lengths as corporations and marketing companies – no, even further – to do their job, build their relationship and protect their most precious asset – their kids. Yes, with so much more technological media, the job of parents is harder than ever, but what isn’t harder these days?

Parents can’t physically be there all the time, but they can lay the foundation so that their children will have the tools to decide what they really want. And until the kids are old enough, moms and dads will have to decide for them.

If that makes you unpopular, you’re just going to have to deal with it. I am guilty of not having done that so well when my kids were younger. After the release of every Disney movie, we would drive to every fast food chain within a half-hour of my home to find the newest toy. My son’s collection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles looked like a section at Toys “R Us. But, along the line, the kids also received consistent, powerful messages from their parents about values and what was truly important in life. I’m not saying they don’t consume their fair share today, but they don’t blindly buy into the must-have messages the media constantly sends them.

The call for government intervention is where the video really loses me. In fact, saying that there is no way to make childhood healthy in this country without government effort scares me. Apparently, that didn’t work out so well the first time around. In fact, it backfired with the FTC Improvement Act of 1980, leaving us where we are now.

The media battle is one we need to fight on our own home front.

 

While raising her two children, Susan Frasca worked as a writer and editorial assistant for an award-winning parenting magazine, and quickly discovered that researching and writing about parenting issues is far easier than actually doing the parenting!  Married once and still to the best man she’s ever known, and with those children now grown adults, she writes on a variety of topics and has scores of bylines in multiple publications, as well as many other articles, blogs and books for which she can’t take credit – the downside of ghostwriting!

 

 

 

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One Response to “Parents need to be as consumed with their kids as the corporations are”

Merry says:

Whenever we refuse to give something that the children want it is vital to be able to offer an alternative product or experience, and make the alternative much more appealing than the mass-marketed product. To this end we need to go back to basics – traditional toys and games, more family-centred activities and quality time with our children whenever possible. Of course, as you so correctly mentioned, everything is so much harder these days but if we give up and make no effort to make time for our children, then we might as well give up on our future.

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