On June 7, 2008, I had the opportunity to discuss the commercialization of American children with Josh Golin, the Associate Director of Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.
Josh’s two-part interview was sponsored by—no one. Isn’t this total lack of commercial sponsorship a pleasant change of pace?
People who warn about the commercialization of our children sound quaint or even shrill to most other Americans. After all, how could it possibly be a bad thing to buy lots and lots of things for our children, to “spoil” them?
As Josh indicates in this interview, there is now scientific data substantiating that buying children more things is harming them. More stuff (and the anticipation of yet more stuff) leads to a warped set of attitudes and priorities, as well as obesity and attention disorders.
I enjoy talking with Josh because he makes his case clearly and enthusiastically. You can see this for yourself by clicking on the two videos of his interview. What CCFC offers in place of a chokingly endless stream of products is common sense: children can thrive without owning the toys hawked by merchandisers. Instead of more toys, children need more creative play and more time developing real life relationships with other children and adults in their communities.
Part I – Interview of Josh Golin
We all know that American middle class children don’t need most of possessions they have (they are a lot like their parents in this regard). Because there is a limited number of hours in a child’s life, giving children more of what they don’t need leaves them with less time and energy for the sorts of things they do need, such as physical fitness, healthy relationships and creative play.
As you can see from the topics I raised in this two-part interview, marketers have done such a superb job of characterizing wants as needs that parents (and their kids) are now doing the dirty work of marketing unnecessary products and services to you and your child. Those who don’t yet have children might doubt this claim. From personal experience, though, I can attest that it is almost impossible to spend significant time with another parent without someone earnestly suggesting that a child “needs” to purchase something that is unnecessary.
Part II – Interview of Josh Golin
It would be a rare day when you spot an anti-commercialism discussion like these on television, even on PBS (where commercials appear in the form of “sponsorship announcements”). Why not? Because acknowledging the toxic environment caused by the rampant marketing aimed at children would destroy the advertising revenue on which most “children’s” shows depend.
For more on the damage excessive advertising does to children, take a look at this image-laden trailer from the Media Education Foundation video, Consuming Kids:
For related posts at Dangerous Intersection see here.
About the Author (Author Profile)Erich Vieth is an attorney focusing on consumer law litigation and appellate practice. He is also a working musician and a writer, having founded Dangerous Intersection in 2006. Erich and his wife, Anne Jay, live in the Shaw Neighborhood of St. Louis, Missouri, where they are raising their two extraordinary daughters.
Sites That Link to this Post
- Alison Blogs Here : I Hate All Kinds of Marketing. . . | June 18, 2008
- How businesses invade the minds of children: they trick people into thinking there is a problem. | Dangerous Intersection | May 24, 2009
- Hypocrisy award goes to "children advocacy" Center | Dangerous Intersection | March 11, 2010