Friday, November 16, 2018

Advertisements Targeting Children: Are They All Bad?

I just found this video below and couldn’t help but re-post it for you to see.

It’s called “Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood” and seeks to blame advertising for many of the problems that children in our society are showing today.

And if you take the argument all by itself, then maybe they’re right.  We probably really should be upset about commercials that build strong desire in young girls to buy a ‘Bratz’ doll or something else that represents values that directly counter what we hope our children develop.  So in cases like that I am in complete agreement.

However… the trailer for this documentary also shows a Disney commercial as a case for how commercials ruin children; and I think we step into unfair territory when we don’t separate companies or commercials from those that advertise products with no value, compared to those that deliver value.  I see a lot of people who get on this anti corporation kick hate companies who sell products that have made my life better, or delivered more joy, or created a special family memory for me, which is exactly what Disney has done for my family.

For sure, I don’t like all their shows, nor do I think all of what they do is right for my children.  The Suite Life of Zack & Cody is an example.  That show has a lot of really bitchy little rich girls all over it, and I don’t want influencing my young daughters lives at all.  According to research done in a great book called Nurture Shock, a TV show that spends too much time showing bad or in this case, bitchy behavior more then repentance of that behavior, will cause a child who watches that show to start behaving like a bitch.

However, the research also shows that children who watch a show where the character spends most of the show being good and representing good qualities starts to behave BETTER.

This is why I am not one of those raving Anti TV parents who think TV is from the devil.

Do I think their are crappy TV programs that ruin children, yes!  But I also think that their are quality shows that build children up.  And in the case of Disney I think they make a TON of wonderful programs and products.

Just Some Of The Things I’m Thankful To Disney For

  • Wonderful family vacation filled with joy that my children still talk about.  Why is it that we hate a company that delivers happiness?
  • Allowing me to purchase premium services to make the experience more enjoyable, like their private tour guide service that makes lines shorter but costs $200 an hour.  If you find yourself hating that service because some can afford it and others cannot I’d like to suggest you might have more of a jealousy issue with the person who bought the service then you do with Disney.  Or do you think nobody should have the service if you can’t because it’s not fair?  Is that right for you to think that?  Is it right for you to wish that another family who saved up to pay for that service doesn’t have the right to enjoy it?  hmmmmm….
  • Rides that stretched my sons bravery.  If you could ever know one thing about me, its that I value the stretching of my children outside their comfort zone more than just about anyone, and I find rides like ‘The Matterhorn’, ‘Splash Mountain’, and Jack’s Haunted Mansion are wonderful at doing this.

I could go on, but I’ll stop with this final example…

Why I Like My Children Watching Scooby Doo

Recently my son, who loves to watch Scooby Doo everyday decided that he wanted to set a trap like Fred Jones always does in every episode.  So while I was outside lugging in firewood this winter, he snuck a glass out of the cupboard, filled it with soapy water and set it on the counter for me for when I got thirsty.

Sure enough when I came in from packing firewood I was thirsty, and not paying much attention, gladly accepted my son’s glass of water, thinking he was being so kind.  I thought something was odd about his behavior as I lifted the glass to my lips and took that first swig.  And as that soapy water touched my lips and I knew I’d been had, my son exploded in laughter, “I set a trap for you Dad!” he proudly exclaimed.

And sure enough he had, a quite creative trap for a three year old if I do say so myself, and one inspired by Scooby Doo.

That very day I took my son to the hardware store and bought him ‘Trap Stuff’, like rope, wood, rubber bands etc.  And we spent several hours that week making traps.

Here’s the Takeaway

TV creates context for our children constantly.  It is constantly exposing them to new ideas, and if we would just take the one on one time it takes to take that new context TV gives our children and fan the creative ideas that it can create through play then it is NOT bad, and it instead is a tool.

Even when TV drives our children to strongly desire material things like ‘Toys’, it can be used for good.  My mother used the drive that the show ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ created for me to have their action figures, as a tool for teaching me to save money for things I wanted.  I got a nickel per chore as a kid and I remember my brother and I saving for 2-3 months just to buy a $13 action figure as young kids.  Does that make whoever produced that show evil?  Not if a child has a good mother like mine… instead it taught me to delay gratification for things I really wanted, even when I want them VERY badly.

So when I see parents or shows that bitch about children and consumerism, and then want to pass laws to make it illegal I can’t help but think, where are the parents?  Our children are going to grow up and strongly desire things as they grow older, so why can’t we be using the strong desires of our TV programming to create skills for life.  Skills like delaying gratification, savings etc.

If we spent more time trying to hate companies, and did some responsible screening of TV programs, and used the others as tools for developing our children, we’d be better off… I know my kids are.

But that’s enough ranting for today, watch the trailer and tell me what you think:




Related posts:

  1. When Yelling At A Child Is A Bad Idea?
  2. Are Best Friends Bad?
  3. A Bad Day At The Petting Zoo

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