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Blogging for Change Blogging For Change
by Tanisha Warner on July 12, 2010

Marketing to children is big business. It is estimated that companies are now spending over $15 billion annually on advertising that is directly focused on marketing to children. According to a recent Harris Interactive study and, a popular parenting Web site, kids are spending a projected average of $164 billion per year. And, $14.4 billion are offered to grade school age kids for discretionary items.

If that’s not enough to make you want to scream, consider research exposed in a 2009 documentary, Consuming Kids. According to the film, the average American child encounters more than 3,000 commercial messages over the course of one day making them among the highest influencers of everyday purchases. The film also points out that many kids as young as six months have already began the journey of loyal consumerism as they help their parents pick out sippy cups and toys featuring their favorite characters.

For most parents these incredible figures are not hard to believe. We’re no stranger to regular cries for fast food, candy in the checkout isle, the latest video games and expensive clothes. The real question is do we realize the lasting impact of allowing our children to be exposed to and persuaded by marketers. As experienced adult parents, we understand how hard it is to break bad habits. The same goes for young adults when they are forced to learn how to be financially independent – it’s a rude awakening for many.

It is our responsibility as parents to keep our kids from becoming spending machines and ultimately jeopardizing their financial future:

Learn to say “NO!” Remember your parent’s tried and true statements – “money does not grow on trees,” and “money doesn’t buy happiness.” Be prepared for “mommy, but why; everybody else has one?” Quickly and firmly follow up with “because I said so!” – code for end of discussion.

Teach them the goal of advertising. Help them understand that a product advertisement’s sole purpose is to make consumers think they need the merchandise when they clearly don’t. This is a good time to also talk about the importance of knowing the difference between needs and wants.

Limit the exposure to advertisements. Consider limiting the amount of media time allowed (TV, computer, video games). Distract them with more useful activities like planting a garden or building a bird house.

Set some boundaries.  Insist on a percentage of all monetary gifts, earned money or allowance is deposited into a savings or investment account. Explain the beauty of compound interest. Search for investment ideas together and help them stay motivated about watching their money grow.


Fay says:
July 22, 2010

I strongly disagree with the "because I said so" argument. It's a bullying technique intended to shut kids up, devalue their opinion, self worth and self reliance. I much prefer, "Sure, just save your money". Then again, I give my kids allowance just so I can put the ball in their court when they "have to" have something. It's amazing how conscientious they are toward money matters.

James says:
July 14, 2010

i think it is important to teach our youth about money management skills and how hard work ties into that. For example when i was a kid if I wanted something my parents made me do chorus around the house to earn money to either pay for the item or split it with them. this made me stop and think do i really want that toy that bad and if so i have to work for it. this was a great lesson in life for me and i will pass it on to my kids as well.

Suzanne says:
July 14, 2010

My 7 year old son is always saying, "Look mommy look!" when he sees ads on TV. It can be everything from cereal to the latest new attraction at an amusement park (the latest is the Harry Potter attraction at Disney).As I try to instill money values in him I have instituted an allowance that he must save and donate a portion of. The rest is his; he can buy silly bands and candy at our gas station stops or save it for the big Lego set he wants. He is starting to understand how hard it is to save and that money doesn't really grow on trees!

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