With Christmas morning mercifully in the rearview mirror, you might think America’s marketing and advertising industries are ready to start acting like adults—at least until Valentine’s Day. But over the last decade, turning impressionable youngsters into full-time consumers has become a corporate obsession, reports Z Magazine: “In the United States alone, expenditures on marketing to children skyrocketed from $2 billion in 1999 to $15 billion in 2005.”
And even though the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission acknowledge that young children are uniquely vulnerable to commercial messages, the U.S. government hasn’t passed significant legislation on the issue since 1990—giving companies carte blanche to “surround children with messages at school, on the school bus, on the Internet, on cellphones and videogames, at doctors’ offices, zoos, museums, with viral marketing (i.e., fake word of mouth), grass-roots marketing, guerilla marketing, immersive marketing, and so on.”
Yosef Brody, who penned the Z piece and is a clinical psychologist in Paris, references recent studies establishing that young children are prone to pay particular attention to TV commercials, but they can’t discriminate its form or intent from other programming. A majority of these ads are for junk food, which is directly related to childhood obesity, considered a health epidemic and correlated with diabetes and hypertension (conditions that have tripled in teenagers since 1980).
Gender stereotyping and violence are also rampant.
“Recent research shows that a high level of exposure to commercial messages is a significant cause of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, and psychosomatic complaints, including headaches and stomachaches,” Brody writes. “Sociologist Juliet Schor found robust evidence that the more that psychologically healthy children become involved in commercial culture, the worse their mental health becomes, and that the more that emotionally disturbed children disengage from commercial culture, the healthier they get.”
Source: Z Magazine
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