The world is pushing our kids to grow up fast in so many ways.
One way is through marketers developing in kids a lifelong pattern of discontentment and product-desire. They’re creating consumers, trying to get kids to start spending as early in life and as often as possible.
They’re speeding up spending.
Cradle-to-grave brand loyalty is a goal of many companies that discover ways to expose infants to their brand so that its images become ingrained in their earliest memories.
Those infants turn into consumer-oriented toddlers and preschoolers capable of nagging the caregiver who has the purchasing power to buy what the kids want.
Eventually those children grow up eager to spend their hefty tween and teen allowances and gift cards, and marketers focus intense efforts on how to reach kids at each of those stages.
I do want to take a minute here to defend certain companies within that industry, however, because a close relative of mine works in advertising. Through him and even through writing projects that I myself have done, I know that there are fine firms and individuals who seek to support their clients with the integrity of honest messaging.
But there are others.
This 5-and-a-half-minute trailer for a new documentary called “Consuming Kids” reveals kid-centric marketing strategies and techniques.
For a chapter called “Slowing Down Spending” in Not So Fast, I read numerous articles and books on consumerism and marketing to kids. In particular, I appreciated the research and insights captured in a book by Susan Linn, which has the same name as the documentary, Consuming Kids.
Also, you may want to explore a website called Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. The articles and links on their resource page are especially helpful for parents wondering how to combat the consumer mindset and raise kids who can resist the lure of advertising and marketing schemes and instead set their minds and hearts on higher, more noble desires than the latest iGadget.
The trailer serves as a sobering reminder to continue talking with our kids about the temptation to continually upgrade vs. the power of gratitude and contentment.
This hits home at this very moment for me.
In spite of our relatively commercial-free lifestyle, my daughter is convinced she needs to upgrade her hand-held gaming device—a device we resisted for years. We eventually let the kids work and save their own money to purchase them. Now she’s wanting to trade in her “old” one for credit and pay the difference with her own money.
And not long ago, I myself was hankering for some kind of portable Internet device like an iPhone, BlackBerry or Palm Pre. I’m not sure how I’ll handle my daughter’s hand-held game, but I managed to resist the iPhone craving.
As we all know, thanks to nonstop marketing efforts, there’s no end to the stuff we could buy.
We must be one of those voices for our children, slowing them down and reminding them—and ourselves—that there is more to life than the next new thing.
Get to know Ann Kroeker better at annkroeker.com