Never have I viewed the drastic effects of media deregulation on children until now.
Today in my Mass Communication class, we watched a documentary titled Consuming Kids. The main focus of the movie was to inform viewers about the wholesale commercialization of childhood and raise urgent questions about the ethics of children’s marketing and its impact on their development.
As I watched the film, I could not help but shake my head in dismay. It was such a terrifying reality. Even though I witness such behaviors on the regular basis, I never thought of the effects it actually has. Personally, I place the blame on both media and parents.
Since deregualation, marketers have become quite strategic with their marketing techniques. They understand that the children are the consumers of tomorrow. They also understand that children have a lot of say in what parents purchase, such as cars, personal computers, food, toys, and even vacation destinations.
A mother of six would never purchase a two-door coupe. Nor would she fill her kitchen cabinets with brown boxes of Cheerios.
Ever since deregulation, companies are finding clever ways to consider the inputs of children opinion that sway major financial decisions. The result of this strategy is the evolution of “junior consumers”.
When paired with such strategies, parents ultimately face the pressure of their own children and the society surrounding them.
Children are no longer interested in playing outside or using their imagination. As a result, it comes as no surprise that both obesisty and A.D.H.D rates are steadily increasing.
As a child growing up, I remember my mom would lock me out of the house until dinner time. Once dinner time rolled around, it was up to her to shout my name out the window and wait for me to come running home from the local playground.
Not anymore! Less children are playing outside because of the many things marketed to keep them inside.
I like to associate much of this to mean world syndrome. Prior to deregulation, the general public was not openly exposed to violence, sex and other explicit content. You simply had your imagination. Children were more happy and active!
The publishing of violent content, including video games, movies, tv shows and music, eventually took its toll on consumers. Mean world syndrome is a phenomenon where the violence-related content of mass media convinces viewers that the world is more dangerous than it actually is, and prompts a desire for more protection than what is warranted by any actual threat.
Furthermore, as family structure continues to diminish, both children and parents are finding more innovative ways of keeping children safely occupied, even if it means jeopardizing their health.
The process of rewiring children will be a hard one. Not only will it require help from the government, but it will require a stronger generation of parents and children who are not easily pressured by media and trends.
“Consuming Kids” was a wonderful eye-opener and reality shocker. I would highly recommend this clip to anyone, both in and outside of the field of media.