“They even follow them into the bathroom. I interviewed a number of people who sat and watched children take baths and showers, watched how they interact with shampoo and soap and health and beauty products as that category is called, in order to go back and write a report for their clients on what to do with the packaging. It’s creepy. It’s just absolutely creepy the way children are being dissected and put under the microscope by marketers.” –Juliet Schor, referring to Child Marketers, in Consuming Kids
It’s no secret that your kids are being marketed to, you and I can point to ways we ourselves were marketed to, but it hasn’t caused the concern or action it probably should. It really is more then innocent marketing, our children are being exploited for profit without interest or concern for their overall well-being, simply for the bottom-line. This should bother us.
An estimated $15 billion dollars is spent each year marketing to children under the age of 18 in the United States. Given that there are only 74 million kids in that age group, that means corporations are spending roughly $200 per child in advertising. You’d better believe they aren’t blowing $200 on your child without knowing they are going to make far more then that back. And if your one of those invincible, unfettered-type who haven’t let advertising affect your purchasing, then that means they are making double their money off the kid down the street.
This isn’t the same as marketing to adults. Most children under the age of 10 don’t understand persuasion. They don’t understand that the smiling kids on the commercial are paid actors following an elaborate script with the soul purpose of making them want a product. They don’t understand that when they’re told by their favorite character that this junk food is fun or tasty or cool that it’s a deceptive scheme, not an honest opinion. We know when we see a celebrity or athlete promote a product that it’s an advertisement (that doesn’t mean it’s any less effective), but children don’t. Imagine you discovered that everything your trusted mentor (maybe a pastor) had ever said to you was in an attempt to get you to purchase certain items. You’d be shocked and appalled wouldn’t you?
This is something we as parents need to be proactive about. We need to be aware of the influence marketing and advertising has on our children and how we can combat it. We also need to be aware of how we can be advocates against this exploitation in our schools and daycares as well as in the media. The blame and ‘responsibility’ is often put on the parents, but the marketers and corporations bear responsibility too.
“It’s akin to a owner of a large fleet of trucks announcing that ‘our fleet of trucks from now on is going to be barreling down the road, especially where children are, at 150 miles an hour. Parents watch out. It’s your job to take care that your children don’t get hurt.’ No one would argue, in that case, that the owner of the fleet of trucks doesn’t bare any responsibility at all.” –Enola Aird, Consuming Kids