For any parent of finite means the feeling will be very familiar. That time just before Christmas when every commercial break on childrens TV seems to be packed full of extremely expensive gifts. Plastic rubbish that takes hours to put together which retails at £49.99 – you also know that twenty minutes after unwrapping they’ll have lost interest.
It’s hardly surprising in some ways that there are frequently pieces in the press about how materialistic young people are becoming. Children are bombarded with advertisements in their daily lives. Even games that you buy for computer consoles and mobile phones are normally stuffed full of advertisements for more games or add ons.
A study of 8-11 year olds in the Netherlands is the latest to point the finger at TV advertising – citing a ’positive causal effect on materialism’. In effect TV commercials are increasing childrens desire for material items but worse are leading them to equate happiness with the aquisition of these items.
The problem is that it takes adults quite a few years to come to the conclusion that on the whole material things don’t make you really happy. And we’ve had it easy, we’ve grown up with only a couple of TV stations and very basic advertising. Our children are targeted specifically with extremely aggressive and very manipulative commercials. Combined with other forces directed to us at the internet like this post – it’s no wonder our children can get confused at times.
The research showed strong links with how children valued material things. The study then regulated the children’s exposure to advertising and tried to measure a shift in perceptions. The strong link between heavier viewing of such adverts and a materialistic attitude to possessions was observed. IN effect TV adverts make children more materialistic. It’s something that crosses social and national divides, bear in mind that children are not restricted to the TV and adverts of their native land. If they use the internet they can access any media sites they like, see this web page which shows to watch BBC Iplayer in the USA, although there aren’t actually any adverts on the BBC to be fair.
So what can parents do? Well the obvious one is to cut down on the amount of adverts that children and young people watch. It’s not always easy but devices like Sky, Tivo allow programmes to be recorded and adverts skipped. Similarly there’s more control with watching online and watching shows without adverts – the BBC in the United Kingdom is an obvious example. IF you’re not in the UK then check this site out – http://www.uktv-online.com/ which can show you how to use technology to access the wonderful world of CBBC and Cbeebies – all quality childrens TV with no advertising at all.