Saturday, April 18, 2009

Are your Children caught up in commercialism?

My opinion? I believe it all comes back to the same old message. Turn off the television. Of course, they are then attacked by the ads and billboards wherever we go, the specifically spaced items at every store, the commercials in our mailbox, hanging on our door knob, on the radio... it's so hard to get away from it all, really.

Kids & Commercialism
Pat Veretto,
used with permission.

Our children are surrounded by pointless materialism and commercialism to the degree that their worlds often become shallow and selfish quests for nothing more than 'things'. Things that are impersonal and poor substitutes for self worth. Things that create intolerance for the 'havenot's, and ego- inflation at the price of self confidence. It's disheartening to realize there are men and women who spend their days trying to find a way to sell our kids on the myth that they 'need' this and 'need' that. 

Schools trade the minds of our young people in return for satellite dishes and tv monitors. 'Channel One', a for profit organization provides over 12,000 schools across the country with these and videocassette recorders in exchange for the right to broadcast 'news' into the classroom, in which they sell advertising time to pay for the venture... by marketing to your child. 

Advertising to children as they are 'held captive' in a school situation is an underhanded ploy. It's bad enough that companies deliberately target young children with flashy toys and games during cartoons and children's shows on tv, but then they play on young teenager's natural feelings of awkwardness and promise them the moon. 

Why don't they advertise to their parents, who hold the purse strings? Right. It's just easier to market to a child and bypass the parent, who then feels frustrated, and powerless to undo the damage.

"...annual gross television-broadcasting revenues in the U.S. are conservatively estimated at about $25 billion..." Newton Minnow, former Chairman of the FCC.

What's a parent to do, especially with the holidays coming on so quickly?

If you're the least bit an activist, you can write letters - to the editor of the local newspaper, to the schools, to your congressmen and to your friends. 

Talk to your kids about it. Even the youngest can understand that, while some of those things might be cool to have, they might not be as fun as they look. Tell them honestly that the companies that make them want the money more than they want them enjoy the product or it's results.

Become an advertising critic. Point out the flaws and unrealities of commercials, but don't harp on it to the point that your kids turn you off.
Be a good example. Let your kids see you ignoring or questioning ads as you shop for things you would need to buy anyway. 

Ask your kids how they really feel about the product, but tell them to not answer for at least an hour after seeing the commercial. Sometimes helping a child to think about it the first time is all it takes. 

Encourage your child's questions and doubts about the product, and help them to explore them completely. 

Remind them of their personal interests and hobbies and ask them if they'd rather have that product than one that pertains to their other interests.
Avoid temptation by going to the park instead of the mall; play ball with the kids instead of watching tv with them.
When the commercials and advertisements have your kids convinced absolutely that everyone else has it and they absolutely need it, remember that you're the parent. Put your foot down. Make the child come up with a reason acceptable to you.

Steiner said, "Things have gradually developed in such a way that in general our whole civilization has been flooded by the impulses proceeding from the philosophies of the western nations. Our whole public life is permeated by their philosophy." (The Educational Task of Central Europe, 1920)

Final Verse a'la Rudolf Steiner:
Out of the gravity of our time
There must be born
Courage for Deeds.
Give to your teaching
What the spirit has given you,
And you will liberate mankind
From the nightmare
That weighs upon it
Through materialism.

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