Parents, more than ads, make kids consumers

We Make Money Not Art directs us to a Guardian article about the innumerable marketing messages kids (and everyone else) are exposed to every day.

Unfortunately, the article takes the low road, opting for sensationalism instead of realism. For example, "one study" (we have no idea the sampling size, randomness of sampling, population, etc. - which makes this study reference useless) claimed that more kids recognize McDonald's golden arches and Nike's swoosh before they recognize Jesus. (To be fair, McDonald's and Nike are real companies; Jesus is mythology.)

The article goes on to complain about kids who know brand names better than they know their own names. Not surprising, if you bother to look at the parents. When they are raised in a world where their parents place irrational values on brands, kids naturally immitate their parents' behavior (regardless of how rational that behavior is). Kids typically continue to do this at least until they reach their tween years, when the influences of peers begin to crowd out the influences of parents.

I think the article fails in that it doesn't hold parents accountable (or even acknowledge parents as key influencers), as if three- and four-year olds are somehow on their own in the world. When your parents proudly wear swoosh-laden clothing every day, or seem to be in a better mood when they can unload the dinner duties on a place that has golden arches at its entrance, what kind of conclusions do you make about the world? Whatever they are, your parents' behavior leads you to those conclusions - perhaps more than any other cultural influence.

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