Children as Commodities, Influence of Media on Children

 

Media Influence on Children - Marketing Power
Media Influence on Children - Marketing Power

“The advertising and marketing industry spends over $17 billion a year on shaping our children’s identities and desires.”

Below is an excellent article discussing the influence of media and money in “commodifying” of children in our modern culture. The article itself is very long so I’ve excerpted pieces of it below with a link at the bottom to the original source. Enjoy!

As we face difficult economic times, everyone is wondering how are we going to bounce back? What can be done? In all the pain and sufferings we are facing, perhaps we should stop and ask ourselves, is there something we can learn from all this? Is there something we could change? The article asks “What kind of society and future do we want for our children given how obviously unsustainable and exploitative the now failed market-driven system has proven to be?”

In a society that measures its success and failure solely through the economic lens of the Gross National Product (GNP), it becomes difficult to define youth outside of market principles determined largely by criteria such as the rate of market growth and the accumulation of capital. The value and worth of young people in this discourse are largely determined through the bottom-line cost-benefit categories of income, expenses, assets and liabilities. The GNP does not measure justice, integrity, courage, compassion, wisdom and learning, among other values vital to the interests and health of a democratic society.

“Subject to an advertising and marketing industry that spends over $17 billion a year on shaping children’s identities and desires, American youth are commercially carpet-bombed through a never-ending proliferation of market strategies that colonize their consciousness and daily lives.”

Children once was perceived as important social investments, innocent children we needed to protect as they would one day be the moral foundations of our society. Our culture protected them. Businesses wouldn’t dare objectify them or treat them like any other commodity. Yet time has changed dramatically in the last couple decades. It has moved from a culture of social protection to a culture of commodification. Now children from a young tender age, grow up in a culture that objectifies their value taking away any sense of moral agency.

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Girl Self-Esteem & Image Issues & Parents

Girls Self Image

Almost across the nation 50% of young girls are engaged in negative activities such as injuring and cutting themselves or engaging in unhealthy eating habits and disorders due to self-esteem and self-image issues.

Girl Self-Esteem & Image Issues

Dove’s Campaign on True Beauty came with a bang last year with their poignant videos that went viral all over the web:

Evolution Video

Onslaught Video

Have you visited their site? It has quite a good number of statistical data in regards to Girls and Self-Image. They have information as well as workshops in helping a girl with their self-esteem. They also have a map with top cities and the individual studies they did in each area. I’ve summarized their statistics and findings below.

Here is the executive summary:

Self-esteem has become a crisis in this country. The majority of girls feel they do not measure up in some way including their looks, performance in school and relationships. Most disturbing is that girls with low self-esteem are three times more likely than girls with high self-esteem to engage in harmful and destructive behavior that can leave a lasting imprint on their lives.

Highlights: Real Girls, Real Pressure National Study

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The Secret Life of the American Teenager – Sex Obsessed ABC “Family Channel”

Secret Life of the American Teenager
Secret Life of the American Teenager

Influence of Sexual TV Programming on Teenagers

“This is the strongest evidence yet that the sexual content of television programs encourages adolescents to initiate sexual intercourse and other sexual activities. The impact of television viewing is so large that even a moderate shift in the sexual content of adolescent TV watching could have a substantial effect on their sexual behavior.”

This article discusses two new programs on ABC called “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” and “Greek”. ABC has traditionally known as a “family channel” have new programs that centers around sex themes for high schoolers and college students.

A high-school guidance counselor agrees to change a student’s schedule so that he is more likely to meet a girl who will have sex with him. A cheerleader breaks up with her boyfriend after discovering that he accepted oral sex from the school tramp. A good-girl French horn player discovers she is pregnant after a one-night stand at band camp and debates with a friend whether or not to terminate the pregnancy.

Sound like the kind of racy fare one might see on HBO or its slightly tamer cousin, the CW? Think again. The previous scenes come from The Secret Life of the American Teenager, a hit show on ABC Family that is changing the network’s image and may change parents’ minds on whether to allow their children to watch the channel.

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Child Online Protection Act Struck Down Again

The Child Online Protection Act (COPA) was a law passed in 1998 for the purpose of protecting children from accessing sexual and objectionable content on the internet. Though the law itself was passed, the law never went into affect because the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit struck down the law, deeming it unconstitutional. The court claimed it violates the 1st amendment – the protection of free speech.

On January 21, 2009, the government recently lost its final attempt to revive the law. The United States Supreme Court refused to hear the appeals effectively killing the bill. The Bush administration had urged the justices to take on the case. However the justices rejected the appeal. Five of the justices who voted against this bill remains on the court.

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Are Superbowl Ads Not Good for Kids?

“…I wasn’t too happy with ads for erectile-dysfunction drugs popping up every 15 minutes whenever I watched a football game with my daughters in the room.” ––Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope, 2006

NFL Commercial Superbowl LogoCommon Sense Media released a study on the content of TV ads & commercials shown during NFL game broadcasts. They studyed nearly 60 games covering 180 hours of game time coverage. Within that period there were nearly 6,000 commercials and the easy conclusion was that it is impossible to watch a single game without visually taking in messages of sex, violence or Viagra.

The CEO of Common Sense Media, James Steyer said “Nearly 5.3 million kids watch football each week, yet one in six of the ads shown during the broadcasts features content that’s wildly inappropriate for kids — that’s every other commercial break…”

“The game of football is great fun for families, but it can be really awkward for parents when they have to explain erectile dysfunction on a Sunday afternoon, or have to dive for the remote during violent promos for network shows. I know we speak for millions of football fans and parents everywhere when we say this situation is really getting ridiculous.“ — James Steyer CEO of Common Sense Media

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Teenager Kills Mother, Shoots Father Over Halo 3

Daniel Petric Kills Mother, Wounds Father
Daniel Petric Kills Mother, Wounds Father

Daniel Petric, a teenager from Ohio was charged and found guilty for aggravated murder and attempted aggravated murder for killing his mother and wounding his father in Oct 20, 2007 because they wouldn’t let him play Halo 3.

Daniel was 16 when he snuck out of the house to buy Halo 3 after his parents told him he was not allowed to play it. His father, Mark Petric 45, forbade him to play it because it is very violent in nature and sexually explicit. Halo is a violent first person shooter. He was caught with the game on his way back and his father put away the game in a lockbox in their closet. Unfortunately this is the same box they kept their 9mm handgun.

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Sex Trafficking Victims – The Facts

Sex Trafficking Victim
Sex Trafficking Victim

Sex Trafficking Part II

Another followup article I would like to give attention too as I feel these issues do not get enough coverage in the media.

There is a video posted online with her discussing her trials.

Article is from the NY Times Opinion Section found here, video can also be found there.

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Health Warning Labels for Video Games – Congressman

California Congressman Baca
California Congressman Baca

California Congressman Joe Baca has brought forth a bill which would require video games to have a health warning. This warning would warn the consumers that playing the game could have adverse and dangerous influence on the user.

All games with an ESRB rating of Teen (T) or higher would be required to carry a label that says “WARNING: Excessive exposure to violent video games and other violent media has been linked to aggressive behavior.”

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Sex Trafficking – Where is the News Coverage?

Where is the Coverage?
One social issue that doesn’t get as much coverage as it should is the sex trafficking that occurs all around the world. The sex traffic business continues to loom large yet the atrocities involved never quite see the day light. Somehow someway the industries manages to keep it hush hush.

Sex trafficking revenue of people is estimated to be between $5 billion to $9 billion dollars. Often it is misunderstood as something people do voluntarily due to money or debt issues when in actuality many girls are abducted and kidnapped from an early age and forced into prostitution by force and torture. Up to 50% are minors. Sex trafficking occurs not just in notorious countries like Cambodia, Japan, Russia and Eastern Europe but here at home in the United States.

One recent “opinions” article that speaks of the issue and is highlighted below. (Why it an opinion article? Shouldn’t this be headline world news!?)

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Movie Review: Twilight, Love Conquers All?

Twilight Movie 2008
Twilight Movie 2008

Movie: Twilight
Featuring: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Billy Burke
Director: Catherine Hardwicke

“When you can live forever, what do you live for”

How about the opposite? When you know your life is finite, is anything worth living for?

The movie Twilight is another film aimed at a young audience. In it’s opening weekend it made $70.6 million making it the fourth highest opening film this year. According to exit polls, 55% of the audience were under 25 years old and 75% of the audience was female.

Twilight is a movie adaptation of a very popular book series mostly read by young female teenagers. It is a love story about a male vampire and a normal girl.

On the surface this is a love story between a vampire and a high school girl that seems to carry a pro-abstinence message and so many parents are focusing on this portion claiming that it’s a great story with a good message. However there are many other themes that are often going unnoticed.

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Are you Unhappy? Stop Watching TV! Go Socialize

A study came out of the University of Maryland that concludes that watching television contributes to viewers’ happiness in the short term, but has negative affects in the long run. In other words they found that those who say they are unhappy on average watch more TV while those who are happy spend more time socializing with others and reading. This study analyzes 30 years of national data through a series of attitude surveys.

“TV doesn’t really seem to satisfy people over the long haul the way that social involvement or reading a newspaper does,” says University of Maryland sociologist John P. Robinson, the study co-author and a pioneer in time-use studies. “It’s more passive and may provide escape – especially when the news is as depressing as the economy itself. The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise.”

In the study, Robinson and fellow sociologist Steven Martin, analyzed two sets of data collected over 30 years from 30,000 adults.

Short Term Gratification, Long Term Harm
They found that people who described themselves as happy were more socially active, attended more religious services, voted more and read more newspapers. By contrast, unhappy people watched significantly more television in their spare time.

The data showed that in the long term it has an adverse affect on happiness. More TV simply meant less time to socialize, make friends, and engage in social activity. The unhappy group were more likely to think they had too much extra time. 51 percent thought they had too much time verses only 19 percent of those who said they were happy.

Living in the Moment
The most fascinating aspect of this study is that “in the moment”, subjects thought highly of watching TV as an activity despite the data clearly showing that the more they watched the more likely they would be unhappy. The respondents wrote time-diaries about their daily activities. This data seems to paint a different picture as in the given moment the respondents rated TV viewing as a something they enjoy and a good daily activity. “What viewers seem to be saying is that ‘While TV in general is a waste of time and not particularly enjoyable, the shows I saw tonight were pretty good,’ ” Robinson says. The data also suggested that part of the reason was because TV viewing was “easy”. It is immediate gratification with a touch of a button. No need to dress up, find a place to go, find people, plan out the day, do any work or expend energy or money. It is no wonder Americans spend more than half their free time watching TV.

TV Viewing like Addiction?
Martin described the TV viewing like an addiction. “Addictive activities produce momentary pleasure but long-term misery and regret,” he says. “People most vulnerable to addiction tend to be socially or personally disadvantaged. For this kind of person, TV can become a kind of opiate in a way. It’s habitual, and tuning in can be an easy way of tuning out.”

What are your thoughts? Comment Below!

Other Related Posts:
Powerful Impact of Media on Children
Study Links Pregnancy with Watching Sexy TV Shows
Influence of TV SNL Satire on Political Identity – Sarah Palin 2008
Just Inappropriate for Kids or Just Inappropriate

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Powerful Impact of Media on Children

Impact of Media on Children

Every single day millions of children are constantly bombarded by media. Television, Internet, Movies, Video Games, Music, Videos are some of the many forms of media that continues to feed particular messages and ideas into our children and ultimately into our culture.

Dr. Douglas A. Gentile, a developmental psychologist and assistant professor in Iowa State University’s Department of Psychology, offered an explanation.

With the 21st century offering a greater number of media than any other period in history, younger generations can view or listen to almost any sort of content at the touch of a button.
“I think that alone makes the fair question, ‘Might it have a different effect than we’ve ever seen before in human history?'” Gentile said.

Gentile would go on to discuss how our concepts of normal behavior, our values, sense what is acceptable and unacceptable develops from our “spheres of influence”. First from Family, then community and the rest of society.

Influence of Media via Culture and Family

“The media influence us not just one-on-one when we watch them. They also influence us by influencing our families. They also influence us by influencing our communities. That’s one of the reasons it’s hard to tell if you’ve ever been affected because it’s not just a simple one-to-one relationship. You’re being influenced in multiple directions all at the same time,” Gentile said.

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