Categorized | Society

Is Back-to-school Commercialism Threatening to Consume Your Child’s Mind and Your Pocketbook?

Posted on 28 August 2013 by admin

As the mother of four children, now young adults, I have not participated in the back-to-school shopping frenzy in quite a while. When back-to-school shopping was something I had to do, my young children were usually the ones who reminded me due to the television commercials that filled the airways around this time. Now we have cable TV and the Internet that also plant the back-to-school shopping seed in the minds of children as early as July. Typically this triggers kids to nag their parents to get to the stores to buy the back-to-school items and clothes that commercialized media leads them to believe they need to have.

I had an experience last year about this time when shopping by myself where a mother and her two children, ages of about 6 and 8, stood before me waiting to pay for their purchases. The older child was whining because they had not been able to find a Sponge Bob tee shirt to go along with the Sponge Bob jacket they had found. “You promised me that all my school clothes and school supplies would be Sponge Bob. You promised!”

The child’s voice proceeded to get louder and louder which then led to tears, wails and a meltdown. The sibling then joined in to remind mom that she needed to find a Dora the Explorer sweatshirt to go with her Dora the Explorer backpack and would not be satisfied until they found one. I suddenly felt bad for all the parents out there that are pressured by their young children for particular items they saw advertised on a screen machine.

The back to school commercials are doing their very best to lure your extremely impressionable children into the “I want. . .”, “I need. . .”, or “I must have . . .” mindset that can add one more stress to your parenting. Here are two things to keep in mind that will help you curtail the back-to-school monster that may be threatening to consume your child’s mind and your pocketbook.

Take control of screen machine viewing. Do not expect your child to be able to resist ads for toys, candy, snacks, cereal, drinks or clothes without your help. If your child watches any TV, you can be sure that she is receiving numerous media messages that promote the notion of consumption being the pathway to happiness, love, acceptance, and success. Take the time to limit the number of commercials your child sees through careful monitoring. You can record shows and eliminate commercials in the playback or watch public television stations (PBS) that are still relatively commercial free or rent children’s videos or DVDs to diminish your child’s exposure.

Help your child become media literate and analyze commercials. When your child asks for products they have seen advertised, explain that the purpose of commercials is to make people want things they may not need. Whenever possible, watch TV with your child and talk about what you see so you can help him think critically about what media is trying to portray. If your child is very young she may not be able to tell the difference between a show, a cartoon, a commercial or real life. If your schedule prevents you from watching TV with your child, talk to her later about what she watched. Better yet, record the programs with commercials so that you can watch them with your child at a later time.

Remember, the goal of advertising is to make a profit. Your child’s attitudes and values are formed by his experiences – experiences you have control over. With anything your child does, always ask, “How is this experience (watching TV commercials) helping my child become the person I want her to be?” Then let your answer be your guide.

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