Consuming Kids

Consuming Kids

2008, Society  -   71 Comments
Ratings: 8.55/10 from 129 users.

Consuming Kids throws desperately needed light on the practices of a relentless multi-billion dollar marketing machine that now sells kids and their parents everything from junk food and violent video games to bogus educational products and the family car.

Drawing on the insights of health care professionals, children's advocates, and industry insiders, the film focuses on the explosive growth of child marketing in the wake of deregulation, showing how youth marketers have used the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform American children into one of the most powerful and profitable consumer demographics in the world.

Consuming Kids pushes back against the wholesale commercialization of childhood, raising urgent questions about the ethics of children's marketing and its impact on the health and well-being of kids.

Directed by: Adriana Barbaro, Jeremy Earp

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71 Comments / User Reviews

  1. David Dieni

    Not gonna change when we have a system that treats us as commodities. Anyone who believes that a more humane, more just capitalism is possible are delusional ngo, ngo's

    I hate documentaries these days, all they do is remind me of how insane and insipid we are, as we let lunatics walk all over us

  2. Manolo

    Great Documentary!!

  3. Dana

    THis is a terrific documentary. A very well made and comprehensive look at corporate America's savage greed and disregard for the welfare of kids. I don't see how anyone could watch this and not feel heart broken at how bad we've allowed things to get since the fateful congressional move to deregulate advertising to children in the early 80s. Every parent and educator should see this film!

  4. Mary

    I used to watch TV and my children were always besides. And they used phrases from adds even subconsciously. About a year ago I made up my mind to give up watching TV. I acted radically and donated it to a hospital. And wow! The real life started! We got a lot of free time for our hobbies and closer communication. TV is like a bad dream that goes away when you wake up. I strongly recommend everyone to choose the way my family had. You will wake up and commercial won't raise you kids!

  5. Juci Shockwave

    I grew up in the Reagan administration... one could say I'm an 80's kid, bombarded with all the ads, marketing, tv programs, etc yet it has not affected my imagination (some would say I have too much of it), it has not affected my social skills to the extreme this documentary make it out to be, it has not affected my educational abilities (I have certifications in Art studies, Cuban Social/History studies, and education. I also got a Bachelor's degree in Special Ed - ESE educator. Currently I'm working on a Medical Biller/Coder certification), marketing has not affected my love life (I've been with the same man for over 9yrs now so I definitely don't have issues with commitment), nor has it affected me as being a productive individual for my society... *sarcasm* oh yea deregulation had such a huge impact to my childhood and life *sarcasm*. >_>

    The point is, it is truly up to the parents to make sure the development of children is molded to make them creative, productive, well-sound adults in the future. My mother made sure that I and my siblings were busy with after school programs/activities... and that we weren't so easily influenced by others. She definitely made sure that I especially was given extra class assignments so that my learning disabilities wouldn't get in the way of my independence. Most of my childhood I spent it doing free, unsupervised play and reading, barely watched tv programs, and those that I did watched were educational... I did watched the typical 80s' cartoons, but those were mainly during the morning before going to school and after doing all my homework. I was also forced to learn responsibilities at an early age... something that isn't enforced upon kids today. I would be shocked to find any kid today who is able to do his/her own laundry, broom and mop the house and make ones own breakfast by the age of 6.

    Unfortunately, parents today are lazy and expect everyone else to be miracle workers for them and raise the kids for them. Sorry but the whole notion of "It takes a village to raise a child" only works if the village is healthy and well educated.. things that lack today. I take the motto "If you want something done right, do it yourself." more seriously and to heart. After all no one knows the child better than his or her own parents.

    Another problem is people have too much expectation of what they ought to have and be. If people lower the cost of their lifestyles and limit expectations (and not have impossible expectations) they would have more time for their kids and themselves. I learned at a very young age to ignore what others say I ought to be... I'm a happier person because of this.

    I don't allow my limitations whether that be my learning disabilities, my financial status, or my overall social status or neighborhood dictate who I am or shape my values. Just because I live in a poor, under valued city with unruly, under educated people doesn't mean I should be like that too. The same is true to the whole thing that I have to be married with a bunch of kids with a shitty job by the time I'm in my 30s. >_> I make my own path, and my own future. I'm definitely will be teaching that to my own kids. To make them question all the garbage that society throws at them, including questioning their own teachers and to challenge ideas so they can have a more individual identity. Some of my favorite students were the ones who questioned what I taught them. It got me to think and be a critical thinker... thus passing that passion and love to use my brain unto those students.

    1. christianmonk

      The only media I allowed my step daughter to watch during the 1980's was video taped COSBY SHOW episodes and she benefited from this tremendously because today, she has a Bachelors Degree and is a successful insurance professional. However, in her mid thirties, she is not married, is a renter and a major consumer. You were one of the lucky ones. As I watched this documentary, another came to mind for adults called CONSUMED. google it and watch it. or on a horizontal level, watch THE PURITY MYTH, or the Canadian documentaries THE SEXUALIZATION OF CHILD.

      if you think teens are using social media to stay connected, what happens when it creates a disconnect? New studies show teenage exposure to aggressive hard-core pornography is changing the way boys perceive relationships. Connect that to the growing sexualization of girls from lingerie lines for 4 yr olds, to the pressure to perform.

      From push up bras for pre-teens to hard core porn on cell phones, the film looks at what effect this is all having on young people-- really young people. This is covered in a new documentary called Sext Up Kids

      Maureen Palmer is the Director of Sext Up Kids. Products have now become a means of developing an identify for kids instead of kids creating their own sense of self internally. It has shaped our psychologies differently.

      The powder keg that is porn culture has exploded in the lives of North American children. From thongs and padded bras for 9-year-old girls to "sexting," 24-7 internet porn, and unfiltered social media, kids today are bombarded with commercial sexual appeals like never before. In this astonishing new documentary, award-winning documentary filmmaker Maureen Palmer (Leaving Bountiful, How to Divorce and Not Wreck the Kids) explores what this radical transformation of the culture means for young people, parents, and our very notions of childhood. Palmer interviews researchers who have been tracking how the accelerating pressure to be sexy -- and sexual -- is changing kids' behavior and undermining their health. She sits down with parents and educators struggling to help kids navigate puberty in a hypermediated cultural environment that no longer seems to recognize or respect the developmental needs of children. And she talks to teens and pre-teens who share eerily casual insights into the routine role sex plays in their lives. The result is a stunning exploration of the sexualization of childhood and a startling wake-up call for parents who still think their own children are immune to the excesses and influences of today's sexed-up youth culture.

    2. Billy Bugatti

      you start off your comment saying that you were bombarded with ads and came out just fine....when in reality, there were things your parents did to prevent you from being completely corrupted. Plus you were born in the 80s and it has gotten worse since then. And even though you came out fine (and im extremely happy you did) you cannot deny that you associate inward desires with products to a certain degree...this has been going on long before you were born.

    3. Roger Barr

      Did your parents hold two,three or four minimum wage jobs?

    4. Janel

      Self reflection rather than projection might be something you could explore.
      What you describe, giving your life as the n=1 that fits-all, is called "normative abuse." Doing to (and advocating to continue because you are "just fine") others what was done to you so that you feel normal. You are "just fine" so whatever anyone says that is contrary to what you feel or experienced or believe about yourself is wrong.
      Stepping outside of your self to see and feel others (empathy) while managing one's own experience in the face of new, triggering info is quite challenging. It can be done.
      In short, because you feel you are "just fine" child of the 80's does not make the info in this film .. profound info we must heed .. not true and it doesn't mean that children and our culture aren't being profoundly harmed and altered by it.

  6. seamus watson

    Holy crap America, wtf are you doing to your kids. No wonder most people in NY cant find Canada on a map.

    1. Gary

      That's a country?

    2. Myathewolfeh

      Blame the government. They keep insisting that they're right all the time, and I'm quite frankly fed up with it.

  7. seamus watson

    The UK Gov regulated the kids ad's, but allowed product placement.

  8. Rebecca Stanley

    I wish they used these advertising techniques to teach the curiqulum in schools(interactive games, things to provoke discussion or interest on FB etc). Then I'd be able to remember calculus instead of the advertising jingles from years ago.

  9. Pascal-Denis Lussier

    People commenting that, really, it's entirely the parents' fault for not being more proactive, not playing a bigger role in influencing their kids, and simply not removing these sources of manipulation from their lives are overlooking a huge aspect; such a simple-minded twist on this complex issue makes me wonder whether such opinions are paid for by marketers or expressed by people working in the field--after all, these kinds of games are right up their alley.
    Yes, responsible parenting is key, but what these people fail to recognize is just how pervasive and far-reaching these tactics really are, and how even the best parents have been themselves indoctrinated into this consumer mindset from birth (a vicious cycle) and, consequently, are barely able to recognize the brunt force and scope of marketing and manipulation efforts, so that we are in no way whatsoever able to control and counter the ubiquity, intense research and careful planning we are all up against, not just as children.
    Are people making such easy claims familiar with Edward Bernays and the power of propaganda and the depth of manipulation in all public spheres?
    Are these people familiar with the studies demonstrating that "turning off" certain sources and gearing one's child towards what most parents assume are educational material are also now playing into the hands of corporate marketers who now control even the pop-educational niche and the guilt that drives parents to many such products and how such actions have little power against the potency of enculturation?
    And do we really want our kids to be hermits or outsiders to circumvent such forces? How ignorant does one have to be in order to buy into the idea that such actions by marketers are OK, it's wholly the parents' fault, and banning advertising to kids is a wicked step against free speech?

    It amazes me that anyone can justify such behaviour and perverted thinking! Notice that such individuals always elevate themselves as great parents while assuming a patronizing attitude towards anyone who dares complain about the deeds of advertisers, essentially calling them bad parents and inducing guilt for wanting advertisers to play a less massive role in our lives. Their position is akin to someone living in a neighbourhood which has been willingly filled with covert/undisclosed pedophiles, and blaming the parents for allowing their neighbourhood to be overrun with pedophiles once they realize what's happening, and calling these very parents incompetent once their child becomes a victim. Makes very little sense.

    1. Janel

      Hard to imagine someone watched the film and blames parents.

  10. Sherry Crossley

    And people are surprised that I had our cable disconnected in 2000?
    What actually shocks them is that neither of my sons asked more than twice to have it back, and over the years since then, they have only told me twice each that they missed tv much at all. But then, that surprised me, too.

  11. kellie smyers

    the video linked to has been removed by youtube =/

  12. Kaitlyn Marty

    how do you read the transcripts?

  13. P

    Simple. Do NOT buy those products!

    (When we buy) = More Sales = More productions!

    Lastly, raise the awareness to other people about how it is affecting the lives of people :)

    Sharing is Caring! (Peace)

    Great educational documentary! :) (I'm more aware than before)

  14. LoveIs MyArt

    What's so funny is all that same "evil" research being done on kids is being done on all of you. Click the ad to the right and I'm sure you'll be helping some company sell data about you to a marketer. Anyone who knows anything about marketing knows that you can't sell people things they don't want (at least not beyond that first trial purchase). The whole purpose and intent of that research is to discover what people what so that companys can provide it. One reason the whole educational gaming sector took off is because... people WANTED it for their children. I think one of the ladies hit the nail on the head early in the documentary, but missed the true point. The crux problem is not marketing to kids, the real problem is marketing without an awareness of how media shapes and defines the VALUES for these young kids. In an older generation, marketing is a reflection of society, but translate that same marketing to a younger generation and it becomes the definition of society, because they are still learning and growing and haven't yet come to define themselves. I think we should continue marketing to children, but transform it into a vessel at re-enforces good values- the ones the parents should already be teaching at home. But the first and foremost responsibilty is on parents, so if you think its trash then don't feed it to your kids, seek out alternative media, play activities, etc. And when marketers see the trends rising in those spaces, they'll change their tone. (i.e. growth of Organic movement). And though the documentary points out that children aren't with their parents all of the time (probably too much of the time) that blame shouldn't fall on the media, it should fall on the people you entrust your children to (i.e. advertising should not be in schools). Then again maybe, just maybe our society's whole concept of child-rearing and parental responsibility and accountability should be challenged, because maybe it does take a village to raise a child..

    1. F Gregg Meagher

      Advertising (marketing if you prefer to conceal the mind games) is a well known psychotic world that invests hundreds of millions of dollars into professional shrinks (psychologists) to literally take-over the 'mind' and drag it into 'buying' beyond the individuals desires, needs, or budget. Subliminal (even if playing within convenient laws against the same) has nothing to do with rational and intelligent purchasing. Thus, it is better to stop the mind games; and teach the children about living Life instead of being victims to professional assassins within the sales games.

    2. texastea2

      Thats what the shows are for dummy.It might not take a village but it helps.Children do not know anything about marketing.As neither do most adults (go figure). The first and foremost responsibility should be on the advertisers and those selling their products.People wanted it for their child because they were convinced by marketers to feel guilty if their child wasn't using (the fun new way to give your kids that head start). Nah could not have anything to do with it. Obviously,for as you stated you can't sell anybody something they do not want. So they must have wanted it before it was even on the market. The research showed parents wanted to start teaching their kids early.So they came up with something that looked cool electronic new age of teaching by staring at the screen.Parents no longer have to feel bad about jr watching the screen all day HE IS LEARNING. Parents that buy it ARE GOOD parents.RINGY DINGY WAKE UP.
      Parents should be able to let their child watch telivision go to the store or mall.IT is not just "the media" We do not allow child sexual predators around our children because we know that you cannot watch them 24 7 so we have laws.Here the only difference is they are not physically raping children they are ROBBING them and purposefully making parenting even harder than it already is.

  15. Marie

    ....Thank Reagan for this and all we suffer today in the name of corporate money hungry soul-less THUGS!!!!

  16. amnaali79

    I have children in the house and no TV! I homeschool my kids so they are not exposed to 70% of this craziness put there. I thank God for that. Getting rid of the TV is very empowering. Try it.

    1. Marie

      Teaching them to KNOW BETTER is the answer.... there are great TV programs out there....PBS, PBS Create, PBS World Compass, etc. These are very educational tv programs that do NOT advertise to kids. To deny them is not the answer.

    2. texastea2

      A better answer would be to make the people doing the harm STOP Teach them to know better! Yeah that is what everybody is doing. Really? The problem you derived at after watching this documentary is that parents dont take the time to teach their children that they are being brainwashed. Did you watch the documentary I watched?
      Like parents have time to tell their children every day 2000 times a day what is happening to them is some very educated unethical bad guys manipulating them. That is simply stupid.
      So are you saying I should be able to market dope cigs alcohol and prostitutes to YOUR children and it is simply YOUR job to teach them that I could care less about their life as long as while they are alive they buy MY DAMN DRUGS. You are part of the problem if that is what you believe which is basically what you are saying
      If you really feel as you say that it is simply bad parenting and YOU are of course a GOOD parent then you would have no problem letting someone like ME legally market a cool new drink that my cool character (yeah he is bad ass) chicks dig him, he is strong super fast and all because he drinks METH, and your kid can be JUST LIKE HIM if you don't watch out.Still think the answer is simply teach them to KNOW BETTER? If I were a bad guy I would just want to kiss you.The marketing worked on you perhaps because that is WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN BRAINWASHING US TO THINKKKK. Helloo

    3. texastea2

      That is wonderful you are blessed but for the masses who must work (increasingly 2 jobs both parents) they do not have the opportunity you have.Those are the ones paying for what is being allowed to happen to their children.
      I am 52 years old and I have decided a few years back that on my tombstone when I am no longer living I want the words "Jimmy Carter was Right All Along" Consumerism will destroy us someday if we do not regulate it.
      This is simply the end of the beginning of the probable demise of America as we know it. Sadly the ones who will see and survive through it are the children we are destroying today. All of us who allowed it to happen will be DEAD. How convenient. PATHETIC

  17. Trapped in Paradise

    I love the comments saying its up to us to protect our children from the bombardments of ads directed at them. I say its our television and we are tired of all the damn ads period.

    1. Janel

      where would one take their child in public where they are not bombarded by the images? Amishland?

  18. MJ

    Sorry Divine, but advertising is nowhere near the same as exercising free speech. Full stop.

  19. zorro

    i'm currently studying marketing communication and i'd like to say that i really enjoy this documentary.
    it had the great point of asking a real question, about a situation, that could have great consequences.

    i agree to all the documentary but i don't change my mind. i still love marketing

    1. ranii02

      thats fine about what you still love. just leave the little kids alone! :)

  20. Leeroy

    @DA in reply.

    Having read your reply, I realize my arguments clearly did not express enough moderation. I agree with your views on parenting. I didn't mean to suggest that we should rely entirely on acting as masses of people, and ignore one-on-one communication, individual responsibility and thought. Of course we should tailor the teachings, advice and parenting to our own specific case. I too have been parented well enough, I suppose, that by an early age I knew about commercials and fads, useless products and non-values promoted artificially, and didn't take as much interest as others. This must have come from my parents because all the other kids around me were doing it.

    Your psych profile is also somewhat accurate! I do feel fundamentally powerless when it comes down to brass tacks, and I don't fully comprehend what people are saying when they talk about willpower and the ability to suddenly coax the determination to succeed alone against the tide.

    I would not go so far as to say I believe nothing around me is my fault, or that I would not entertain independent thought and action. You misread my argument, I was more along the lines of increase our chances by working together, without ignoring the "individual level". A nice proper balance.

    I don't expect Big Government to ease my life, rather little government of local communities. And I'm pretty sure that if all parents thought like you and parented we'd be more or less where we are today. This is were you are seriously mistaken. It isn't enough to teach your own kids right and hope your neighbors catch on and their neighbors and so on. The backdrop WILL NOT disappear simply by doing that. That IS part of the solution, the fundamental goes-without-mf-in'-sayin' base, it's true. But it won't be enough.

    My message remains. Don't you people think it worthwhile to stand up for what we hold to be true? Why should there be this level of conflict in society, are you so blind that you think it normal or character-building that you and your children have to wade through lies and poisons as a matter of daily life?

    Or are you afraid that without these hardships there won't be any left and the world would turn into slobs? That we'd "loose incentive"? :D Be serious.

    So I hope we're clear as crystal that teaching your kids right doesn't make the world a better place AS FAST AS teaching them right + organizing to change the negative influences.

  21. DA

    I teach parenting classes, and clearly, I'm not in peril of running out of parents to teach to, if Leeroy is any indication. Sigh. Leeroy, I have *never, ever* yelled at my kids about McD's. Ever. That said, we rarely eat fast food of any kind. When the kids were younger, they could earn a trip to McD's once a week by behaving in church. They're in early elementary school now, and they know enough about basic nutrition, cooking, and critical thinking to know that 1) McD's is garbage, 2) actual food tastes much better, and 3) *anything* you see on TV is probably a lie (not just commercials!) masquerading as some kind of truth.

    Your "logic" is permissive parenting, very poorly disguised as caring. What you're suggesting is that you believe nothing around you is your fault. In reality, what you believe is that you're powerless. The television controls you. Your children control you. It sucks to be you, Lee.

    Personally, I set firm but loving limits for my children, because I expect them to be bombarded with messages that go against the morals and values I uphold for their entire lifetimes...and I know I have a very short span of time (before puberty) to truly influence them. In other words, it's, like, my job to teach them. To teach them what's healthy to eat, what's healthy to watch on TV, etc.

    The saddest thing about your post, Leeroy, was your addendum. You know what? If more parents thought like me and actually did their job -- namely, *parented* -- the backdrop *would just drop away.* The media culture survives -- nay, thrives! -- because of people like *you,* who expect Big Goverment to spare them the pain and inconvenience of independent thought and action. *If you people would stop buying McD's, they would go out of business!!* But it's much, much easier to blame someone else and give in to your whiny child than it is to learn how to cook and learn how to parent and learn how to think, isn't it? Pity.

  22. Leeroy

    Addendum: In my opinion policing your children to be untainted by the media culture of today is like desperately trying to alter the foreground against a huge unflinching backdrop of profit-driven billion-dollar marketing machines. It's disfunctional, painful even, certainly not clever.

    We must bear in mind what an ideal society would be like, not just compromise Band-Aid™ after useless Band-Aid™. Therefore we must hack away at the backdrop!

  23. Leeroy

    I have to agree with Ron's remark that Divine Comedy's position is naive. (I know, convoluted.)

    Upon reading Divine Comedy's points it seems apparent to me the personal and individual level his views stem from.

    In my opinion if one looks back into history even for just a bit, it's obvious that the influence of national, trans-national and global factors has shaped the individual lives of the multitudinous many... in far more profound ways than their individual everyday decisions. Things like local culture, legislation, leading all the way up to factors like wars, famines or climate changes have undoubtedly affected human lives at least as much as their own choices.

    I am inclined to liken marketing to this kind of implacable influence. In my view, sure - it IS theoretically possible to put your foot in the door as a parent and control your kid, but this effort is against the grain. The grain runs in the direction dictated by giant corporations in their quest for making profit off of children's studied weaknesses. Furthermore, it takes only the "weakest link" in the kid's entourage to thwart your attempts. If it's up to each parent to yell at their kids to stop nagging about Happy Meals and Xboxes, all that amounts to is an impressively stressed society. As a parent, why fight alone at the symptoms-end of the problem?

    The best way to deal with this is fighting the root of the problem, together - changing the determining factors to our universal benefit, the actual causes of poor value systems, short attention span and dwindling creativity and lucid reasoning abilities.

    Perhaps regulation is a first step, perhaps propaganda for the alternative, good habits and activities is the next (anti-smoking attitudes and organic food interest are now hip). Whatever the course of action I think it's a better idea to acknowledge we are a society, a global organism even. Thus we must take control and express ourselves in large groups as well as individually.

    The power of the crowd is the wave of the future, let's hope we harness this power to change the very landscape of educating children.

  24. Annunaki

    @ 1.35 Hang out with the bus driver? CREEPY!!!

  25. Jason

    That was to fast. Thanks!

  26. Jason

    Video is no working. I have selected to be notified when correct so please post when working. Thanks!

    1. Vlatko

      Ok it's working now.

  27. Creatio-whaa!?

    Hats off to Divine Comedy. I watched this film in an anthropology class, and yes the professor was an aging liberal who bought this hook, line, and sinker. The 'evil' marketing corporations are out to corrupt our kids' minds and turn them into zombies. Well, actually they just want to find out what kind of products your kids want and sell them. Does advertising target children? Sure. Can some of their market analysis methods be a bit creepy or over the top? Sure. Are their marketing campaigns aggressive and opportunistic? Yep. But you know what? Mommy and Daddy control the purse strings that buy little Johnny's must-have-toy-cereal-clothes-trinket-shampoo of the week. Get over your corporate America allergy and take responsibility for parenting. I grew up in the 90s when TV advertising was at its pinnacle because there were essentially zero other forms of media entertainment in the home. I was one of those little brats who made a fuss for the all new junk of the week that was on the TV. You know what? My parents didn't put up with my BS and I grew out of it pretty quick. In the process of calmly and firmly telling me "no" and explaining their reasoning clearly and rationally, I eventually got the picture.

    Nowadays I'm in my 20s and I haven't owned a TV for years and I see no justifiable reason to own one even when I have a family. TV is much less influential, because kids have so many other media entertainment options, namely gaming and the internet. Sure, the internet provides its own set of parenting problems, but the critical element that made TV so powerful (and so menacing to the anti-marketing types) is that TV essentially feeds you your entertainment. At 6:25 PM on every broadcast station, EVERYONE would be playing some sort of commercial, all you could do is hit mute or go to the bathroom. All the problems with the internet revolve around its greatest aspect: choice. There are so many options, and there is no way for any advertiser to force you to put up with media in your face that you don't want to see. Hulu cutting to commercial? Mute and open a new window to update Facebook, read a news article, or skim Wikipedia. Most media outlets, like Netflix for example are subscription based and have zero commercials anyways. Free media outlets like this awesome website or regular web pages have banner ads, sure, but you learn to ignore those within your first 15 seconds on the internet. Nowadays you can ignore and turn advertisements off easier than ever before. Sure banner ads and junk like that are ubiquitous on the internet, but its ubiquity makes it harmless, aggressive advertising is obsolete, on the internet it is entirely passive; never again will someone be forced to watch a Captain Crunch commercial so often that they memorize the jingle.

    1. Janel

      so it's all about you and what you experienced, and how you are "just fine"... if you were, then everyone is. and how fine are you? It's called "normative abuse" to keep doing what was done to one and it is because they then will be "just fine" too and "normal like me."

  28. Ron

    One of the best and saddest docs I've seen. Thanks.

    The advertising industry spends billions each year on very sophisticated science, even using MRIs, to figure out how to influence our subconscious to impulsively want to have something. Our recently evolved rational conscious mind can't hope compete on even ground with a primal hard wired subconscious that has evolved over hundred of millions of years. Advertisers know that.

    While they claim free speech and freedom to choose, that's the last way they want consumers to behave. They know they can't make money promoting products on a rationale basis. Their own research is clear on this. Market economic theory assumes that all financial choices (I include purchases here) are rational ones. But the data suggests its anything but, it runs on the primary emotions of fear and greed. (See Dan Airely's research on being predictably irrational.)

    So, where are the billions of dollars to train parents how to think critically, to help know where and how advertisers are pushing products, to educate them on what's in the food they buy?

    If I got to war with a dollar and the other guy goes to war with billions dollars, I'm going to loose.

    Parents, and I'm one, we're loosing.

    The position expressed by Divine Comedy is naive and unrealistic because it discounts the research data on both sides of this argument.

    In fact, its quite possible Divine Comedy was paid by the ad industry to comment on this doc. (Notice my devious advertising copy writing style to subconsciously skew you're thinking in that last sentence) Regardless, putting out dis-information under the guise of an average person is not uncommon in the internet age. Its been done before for cigarette and anti-environment interests by their PR firms. Oh, and the tobacco industry still argues that there's no proof smoking causes cancer.

    But I do agree with Divine Comedy one one point, advertisers aren't giving us a message they're giving us a "massage". And i quote, "Second you don’t have to fight the massages 24/7 and be round your kids all the time to counter the effect." and "Its not up to the state to control the massages that we get." Divine Comedy indeed.

    Cheers, Ron

    BTW - The government isn't them, its us. That's what democracy is really about; to control the power of the elite by sharing power with everyone. Use it or loose it.

  29. Samantha

    I just think that this is both right and wrong. My son has watched baby Einstein, Elmo, and barney since he was about 3 months old. I have the most brilliant two year old ever, he not only can count to twenty in English but also in Spanish, say all of his alphabet and recognize each letter along with all his numbers. I don't believe a child should be set in front of the TV all day...but it definitely has not made my son unintelligent, selfish, or a "brand" baby.

    1. Janel

      there is a difference between emotional and intellectual intelligence ... a baby needs physical touch, connection, attention, eye contact, mother's voice .. to achieve emotional quotient. we need humans with high EQ's so that we have empathetic, emotionally healthy, connected humans.

      Those programs have now been recalled.

  30. Yohann

    This documentary is very interesting. As a teenager I can see a lot of my friends and other kids at school are complete consumers.
    I don't think that we should ban advertising, we should ban the companies. We need socialism, true democracy, because capitalist democracy is nothing more than a sham. Corporations control people's minds and the government.

  31. Alexandrea

    I played with a broom as a child and I think I turned out ok. LOL

  32. millipede

    Very interesting a DEFINITELY confirmed a lot of what I had already believed. I didn't realize it was quite to the extent that it is until I talked to my husband (advertising in schools, marketing parties for kids, etc). Part of that was because I was taught by my grandmother to ignore commercials and ads to the point where I don't even notice them today. Unfortunately, my younger brother was not taught this same lesson and has always had to have the "best" things. He will not wear any clothes if they're not a certain brand, price, and color scheme. It's insane. I understand everyone has their own personal style, but to the point where they'll refuse to wear it if it's not Active brand? Or if it is the right brand but won't wear it if it was on clearance?! What's worse is he's 17; I already learned that brands didn't matter when I was 11. Hell, I was 13 when I started asking myself 3 questions when shopping, "Is it cute? Cheap? Comfortable?" If I said no to any of those things, I would than put it down.

    And than there's my sister. Her daughter is extremely cute and quite playful like most 18-month old kids. Unfortunately, my sister is raising her on TV. Starting at 6-months, my sister (and soon later my mom) would sit her in front of the TV to watch Baby Einstein. Why? Because it shut her up and put her to sleep. And now, my sister doesn't really play with her, just kinda sticks her in the living room with Nick Jr. on TV and tons of these toys that light up and make funny sounds. Than she'll take her to the park maybe once every couple of weeks or so. She's not even two, and my sister wonders why the pediatrician lectured her about her daughter being behind developmentally. It flippin' irritates me!!! Sometimes I want to ask her why she had a kid if she didn't want to be a mother. I understand taking care of a kid is hard and even harder to resist the temptation of all this crap that will "make them happy," but any parent should have known that from the very beginning. It's maddening because she also has the luxury of not having to worry about work or school. Her boyfriend (the father) makes more than enough to support them both, and she completed her B.Sc. years ago. So, she's with her daughter all day every day and still does these things.

    My husband and I are expecting our first soon and I told him that I did not want us to get a TV for another few years. He wants one for video games, but admits that he can live without one. When other people find out we don't yet have a TV and don't plan on getting one anytime soon, they give us the weirdest looks. One woman who is a mother of 3 asked me, "So, if you don't have a TV, than what do you do? Talk?" There's a whole world out there and so much to do! I don't want to be some drone staring at a screen. Sure, taking care of a kid is tiring, but playing with them and watching them learn from YOU is so rewarding! So why would I even bother getting something that will only tempt bad habits?

    I understand at the end why they say sole responsibility shouldn't be placed on the parents for being exposed to all of this, especially in certain situations (such as a single/working parent is forced to rely on daycare(I have a lot of issues with daycare that I won't go into)). But, when a parent(s) has the capability to raise their kids and TEACH them yet don't, I do put majority blame on the parents. Every parent should know better than to give their kid(s) everything he/she/they want, but they often give in because they don't want to deal with the tantrums. I've seen it happen several times over, and do these parents not realize that they are essentially rewarding terribly bad behavior? Not just conceited selfishness, but the idea that the child can than get whatever he/she/they want by simply being a handful?!

    @Divine Comedy: I completely agree with you.

    @Sarah: Good for you!

    @Tia: And good luck to you, too. I'm sure, that since you are aware that you have to teach your children, that you will do well.

  33. icnivad

    Turn on your TV only after the kids bedtime. At age 7-8 use educational videos to gradually introduce them to television.

    Do not allow commercialized television form the early learning experiences of any children age 1-7 because they have nothing else to compare it with. TV = Garbage

  34. ningen

    The underlying issue here is not whether these kinds of ads should be banned, or whether parents should take more responsibility, but the whole so-called free market system. Marketing deregulation basically means legalized corruption.

    This movie clearly revealed that the corporations who are trying to get to these children only have one objective, and that's maximizing profits at all costs. Any problems that arise are irrelevant to these organizations as long as money keeps coming in. Plus, problems can often be turned into profits, too. Medical industry is a BUSINESS. See documentaries like "Sicko" or "Making A Killing: The Untold Story of Psychotropic Drugging" to understand how our health problems bring in profits for big corporations.

    Younger children are unable to rationally decide if the information/ads they are exposed to are true or what kind of longer term effects they have, and parents are often unaware of these effects as well, so how can we expect them to take full responsibility when them whole system is designed for bringing in profits at all costs? I say people need to wake up and realize that it's the whole system that needs to change.

  35. Tia

    I made the mistake of watching this doc within earshot of my 3 year old son. He prooved it right!!! He does not usually watch TV at home, but if he goes to stay with family or play with his friends, he definately falls into all of the media. All I can do as his mother is try to teach him as much as I can and keep him healthy. Good luck to all of the parents on trying to raise your children well. :)

  36. Al

    Excellent documentary. Turning off the TV and other media will not be enough to isolate your child from their bad effects. Their peers will be infected and some will rub off on your child. Why make life so difficult for parents in order that some corporation can make more money?

  37. ad

    You have ad in schools in america. What a crazy country.

    Problem of marketing to kids is same as it is usually in marketing. Product does not matter, image does. People should concentrate on actual added value, not what you think the product might do.

  38. Sarah

    Great documentary. Such an eye-opener. I'm even more happy about my family's decision to get rid of television.

  39. RAY

    It is up to parents to educate their kids not a tv.

  40. ML

    Compelling stuff. I never knew as a kid all the marketing (He-Man, G.I. Joe, Star Wars (!)etc.) that was directed at me. Certainly worth being aware of if you're a parent. And a good reminder of the proper role the government ought to play in regulating the market. The most scandalous thing to me is that agencies that were created to protect the public are now serving the best interest of the corporations and the market. Spring is almost here. Time to go out and play.

  41. hmm

    wow.. how scary.. almost don't feel like having kids in the near future..

  42. Lainy

    Hear, hear Divine Comedy! That's exactly what I wanted to say but you beat me to it. Parents are responsible for teaching their children to react critically to ads. Even if the child sees commercials that make them want something, the parent does not have to give in.

  43. hungry hippo

    Great documentary. Must Watch if born in the USA. Countries outside have a better awareness and laws protecting from the abuses.

  44. Patrick Abdallah

    I actually enjoyed these videos. Very interesting theories. I do agree that many famous corporations and companies like to target kids to buy their products. I still vaguely remember when I really wanted an action figure called "Action Man" after I saw what it did on TV. I forgot what it was like to be a kid. I mean, today I would not be as influenced by TV ads. I guess I see why corporations are targeting kids instead of adults.

  45. Peaceful Solution

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  46. Mack

    This was a great documentary. I had no idea how far advertisement has gotten. This was a real eye opener.

  47. O. Von Thomas

    Advertising is to the brain as cigarettes are to the lungs. Parents and children alike suffer.

  48. Goldmund

    Great documentary. Very relevant in today's discussion about the merits and the dangers of the free market. As the financial sector preys on adults' fears, greed and ingnorance, the marketeers prey on helpless children. How low can we go as a society? It's fascinating to see the disastrous consequences of the idea that 'government is a pain and should be as little as possible - the free market will take care of everything', advocated by Reagan (inspired by Milton Friedman). When the only incentive in the system is Profit, this is what you'll get. Wars being cooked up for the Military Industrial Complex to profit from, unregulated greed in the financial industry bringing down the economy and kids being seen as little (but expanding) bags of money. It's horrific that a society allows this to happen with it's most precious commodity. But then again, who can still think outside of the box, when everyone is brought up this way and is being continuously indoctrinated by the system?

    1. Marie

      Yeah YO! you said it brother!!! Raygun was just a puppet for the corporate thugs to take over. I am sure he is rolling and rolling in his grave right now for how stupid he was to listen to the puppet masters.

  49. raiuvlight

    As a parent I say just kill your television. Take the kids outside to absorb nature and excerise their imagination. I have made the choice not the work as much just so that I can control this media and social influence on my kids, go ahead parents, make sacrifices and BOND with your children. You can bet your bottom dollar the rich folks are not letting the T.V. raise their children. Wake up!

  50. Divine Comedy

    Some further thoughts. They say that parents are not always there and its asking alot of them to fight this huge advertising industry.

    First no its not asking alot, people have raised children properly in much more dire circumstances then having non beneficial messages on tv. If you have children that's what you have to do. How the hell can you argue that a child not fitting into a car seat is not the fault of the parants, they control directly everything a child ingests at this point, how is it anyone elses fault.

    Second you don't have to fight the massages 24/7 and be round your kids all the time to counter the effect. You have to form a bond with your child, and appeal to them on logical and emotional levels, when children grow up they start to rebel, but when they are young the parents are the ultimate authority naturally, so you have to just keep appealing to the child, again to genuinely convince them not stand in the way when you're there and have them do what they want when you're not. How absurd is it when they say that Mikey mouse and other characters are the constants in children s lives, and advertising hijacks this. But why is this the case to begin with, should not your parents be the ultimate constant.

    Well this all stems from the one issue they hit on briefly, the its all about me attitude. And this is not limited to the kids, parents are to concerned with their own problems and their own desires to devote enough times to mold the minds of the kids, leading to the next generation acting similarly. But the cause is not advertising, its the symptom. Advertisers appeal to our culture and preference, and we are painfully individualistic even with reguard to our kids.

  51. Divine Comedy

    Ok sure children are easily persuaded, and they don't understand the persuasive nature of advertising. That is all well and good, but to go as far as to ban childrens advertising or regulate it is just as absurd as regulating any other aspect of free speech. I personally think its great that the permission to regulate was denied.

    Its not up to the state to control the massages that we get. I think a lot of people who rant about free speech and the patriot act also would agree that kids adds should be regulated(i could be wrong). But this is fundamentally the same issue. Lets be honest its up to the parents to put forth an effort to teach their kids, explain to them the nature of advertising, and teach them to think in a critical manner.

    The problem here is not the adds, its that parents and teachers are to lazy to properly engage their children. I stead of dealing with a nagging child with a bit of discipline and explanation they will just give in to the child's demands so they don't have to be bothered. I stead of dealing on an emotional level with psychological issues the child might be having, they instead go to the doctor and get a prescription. Its not up to the 8 year old to decide that cereal full of sugar is bad, advertising or not kids want sweets, its up to the parents to say, no we are not getting that. But more importantly not just say no because i said so, but say no and explain to the child why no. This wont necessarily convince them but one must repeat it and progressively use more logic to genuinely convince the child, this not only teaches good habits, but critical thinking which makes them less prone to be suceptive to advertising.

    I was raised in the aftermath of the Soviet Union when advertising was just beginning to become prominent on television. My family always looked at ads with skepticism, and treated them as a default lie unless it offered up some real logical support for the quality of the product. So i have come to treat adds with the same skepticism from a young age, and now i don't even know what brand my clothing is i just buy what fits and looks good, considering the item on its own merit and not on the letters stitched into it.

    Advertising is powerful, but parental guidance is more powerful still, people tend to forget that.

  52. Karl Andre Bru

    Really good docu.
    Always interesting to see how cynical and immoral the unregulated market can be. The nature of the beast.

  53. Elizabeth

    Great documentary! Thanks for is very informative. I hope other child development majors or people who work with children would watch this documentary as well. This will definitively further our understanding between the link of Children and the Media, and also about its effects on children's cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical health.