Thursday, January 25, 2007Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood
I've been trying to figure out a way to write about the topic of children and commercialization for some time. I'm personally not a huge fan of my kids being walking billboards for the latest cartoon character but through gifts or cheap thrift store bargains, you may find a few brand names screaming loudly from their shirts.
I don't think this is necessarily bad; after all the kids are dressed and warm and that's what counts. But I try to limit such types of clothing and toys for two reasons. One, it's not asthetically pleasing to me (and it's all about ME right?! ;o) ) Two, the principal of using kids to market brands just gnaws on me in a bad kind of way.
Clothing producers are very, very savvy in the techniques used to market their products to children. Look at the whole Disney "Princess" line that's just taken off this past year or two. There are princesses EVERYWHERE... and it's all over their bed sheets, sippy cups, backpacks, and toothbrushes!!! This stuff sells big. Again, I wouldn't categorically say that buying your kid the Dora the Explorer sheet set is an act of imprudent parenting... you'd probably be your child's hero for a while! (My son used his own birthday money to purchase Spider Man slippers he wanted so badly.) But it does give us pause to think about overarching goals of consumerism.
When I was looking up a book (yet to be released) called "So Sexy, So Soon:
The Sexualization of Childhood in Commercial Culture", I stumbled across a very interesting website: http://www.commercialexploitation.com/
As a disclaimer, it's important to note that I don't advocate everything on that site; there are some things a little too "left" for my liking but you can sort the wheat from the chaff and be caught for hours reading links and articles that really put the commercialized childhood thing in perspective.
So without further digression, I'll leave you to explore that area on your own. Some interesting links include the following:
Printable fact sheets on marketing to kids
"So Sexy" overview
Breaking Free from Baby TV