The High Cost of Profit: Consuming Kids Documentary

Posted in World Affairs by Kevin | Tags: , , , , , ,

This is my first ever review on SmarterSpend and it came about rather spontaneously.

Today, I saw a documentary about advertising and marketing that really got me thinking about the mentality behind businesses today in the United States. The name of the documentary is “Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood” and brings to light the very troubling tactics employed by huge corporations to market their products to young children.

Consuming Kids is one of the most amazing documentaries I have ever seen.

The video begins by describing how advertisers and companies have targeted Congress into deregulating children’s advertisement and marketing and how there was an 840% increase in children’s spending in the past 25 years because of this deregulation. This is a growth about 7 times more than the inflation.

Currently, children have the spending power of the combined GDPs of the poorest 125 countries, worth a total of $700 billion, in America alone.

The documentary then describes how clever advertisers are creeping into children’s lives one area at a time – starting from small cartoons aimed at selling toys, to online games (including adver-cades) and websites, and now into brazen promotions of their products in numerous TV shows and movies.

Furthermore, these advertisers are using the fiscal crisis to purchase billboards and large advertisements in schools – where they promote unhealthy products and wasteful spending. An example of this was a donation of a scoreboard with Coca-Cola logos all over it to a certain school. Not only is this brainwashing children to spend money on unnecessary products and forcing their parents to make unwise financial decisions to seem “cool” and fit into their altered social standards – most of the stuff they try to sell is completely bad for the kids- chips, sweets, and processed foods.

Advertisers have hired many researches in order to get their science – including following kids in school and supermarkets, while they are talking to friends, and even in the bathroom to promote beauty products and studying their reactions to different shapes, colors, and voices. They have even exploiting friends and family – nothing is out of reach.

Another scary method used by advertisers is neuromarketing, which allows researches to see what areas of a child’s brain lights up when they see something exciting. All this is used to entice everyone to spend more money money and make the wrong decisions.

With years of extensive studies, marketers have perfected nearly all aspects of advertising – speeds and sounds, ethno and geotargeting, and even changing the shapes in their advertisements based on children’s responses as they grow older. Marketing has also evolved in recent years – not by exaggerating the product but by changing the mentality of kids to “You Are What You Have.”

The documentary also talks about how children are getting younger faster by citing examples of the makeup brand Tween, which used to be for 8- 12 year olds, but now is being used by six year olds girls. These social changes have altered the dynamic of being a child. Kids ages 12- 14 now spend 94% less time in creative games and activities than 15 years ago – a staggering figure.

In order to make a change in the world so that our children and grandchildren grow up in a society where people are not classified based on their material possessions For example, limiting children’s television and Internet time is a great way to stop this thirst for products and wasteful spending.

Children should not have to have things to be happy- surely an Ipod does not grant happiness. Kids are slowly getting older, faster. They aren’t enjoying the things that little children used to enjoy before – like spending time with their parents or reading a book.

The most horrible exploitation is that of young girls with sexuality and look preferences – so much that preschoolers are wearing mini shorts and skirts based on their favorite Bratz dolls. For males, the ideas of becoming a man and being able to dominate have begun creeping inside video games – where killing someone after a conflict is seen as the only alternative to a reasonable solution.

I can go on and on summarizing the this very educational film, however I rather my readers watch it and come back to me with what they learned and what they will do to ensure kids are not brainwashed and manipulated. How can we provide a healthier future for everyone?

Please watch this video and let me know. Click this link for the video.


5 Comments to “The High Cost of Profit: Consuming Kids Documentary”

  • I have seen this documentary as well, it really elucidates the problems facing our country… things like this go unnoticed.

  • Kevin, thanks for the review!  We are hearing from lots of educators and parents all over the country for whom the message of “Consuming Kids” resonates.  For some more information, click here for some fact sheets about marketing to children created by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Best,Alexandra PetersonMarketing CoordinatorMedia Education Foundation

  • Mike- I am glad you agree with the problems highlighted in the documentary.

    Alex- thanks for the great link, it’s very useful.I will recommend this great video to all my friends.
  • This isn’t even a tough one at all.Parents make the choice over how much of their lives will be driven by the child’s whims.You can say that the child ‘needs’ to fit in and keep up with peers, but the choices are apparent from an early age.I’ve seen a three yo ORDER mom to the mall because she ‘needed’ new ‘cute’ shorts TODAY.And mom giggles and says “She gets her fashion sense from me”.And GOES TO THE MALL.This is NOT about advertising, this is about parenting.That 3yo will wind up hanging out with other kids who share her lifestyle – which was determined by the choices her parents made in raising her.And parents influence those early choices not just by how they treat their kids , but by how others parent as well.Who’s setting up the playdate? Parents are!Who does Mom want to hang out with?The mom she swaps cute stories of all the great finds at the mall and who laughs when told the story of the child’s tantrum over a desired bracelet to which mom gave in?Or the mom who wants to know if you want to join her and her Dd at the zoo?Sure, there IS overlap, but by the time the kid is 10 she knows which set of kids SHE wants to hang with- the kids who have equal access to the family purse regardless of how much is or isn’t in it!If you live a buybuybuy lifestyle, so will your kid.Don’t blame the advertiser for noticing that you WANT your kids to behave this way.

  • Kit,

    I have to agree with you – parenting plays a major role. But its harder to be a parent to a kid that keeps asking for stuff compared to a child that is happy with what you give them.

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