The Effects of the Media on Young Children
My 3-year-old granddaughter awoke in the middle of the night crying: “I want Elmo.” We laughed. Weeks later she awoke yelling: “I want Elmo NOW!”
Kids are being programmed to lust after products, to “need” them. Cradle-to-grave marketing targets everyone, even toddlers and babies. Between the ages of 2 and 11, a time of intense brain development, children see more than 25,000 advertisements a year on T.V. alone.
Children are learning that everything is about me, and about me now. They are being taught to nag their parents until they get what they want. The authority of parents is being usurped. When exhausted parents give in, traditional values are challenged, weakened, and undermined.
Before the days of marketing to children, citizenship was taught in schools. In fact, my report card included grades for the 3 Rs, and also for Citizenship. Now civility, respect, and consideration of others have taken the back seat, and social problems have increased sharply.
Narcissism has reached epidemic proportions. Furthermore, according to Community Matters, “bullying and other forms of mistreatment are occurring at younger ages, getting meaner, and becoming more acceptable in youth culture.”
Companies spend $17 billion annually marketing to children, inundating them with advertising 24/7/365. This advertising pays off in $500 billion in purchases per year influenced by children. Yet, are there effects on our children’s mental health and well-being that can be considered “collateral damage” of materialism?
The media also encourages eating disorders, precocious sexuality, youth violence and family stress. Furthermore it contributes to children’s diminished capability to play creatively. Kids are not allowed to be kids anymore.
I highly recommend a powerful, disturbing, and heartbreaking film: “Consuming Kids: the Commercialization of Children”. It should be required for every adult who cares about kids. Please watch this 5 minute trailer for Consuming Kids: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=maeXjey_FGA.
To find out what you can do to save your own children watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_-q0bAj6ME.