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Children as Consumers. Adults ’ concerns toward children ’ s vulnerability Capitalist media colonizing children ’ s consciousness Imposing false ideologies Inculcating materialistic values Therefore, calling for protection, censorship, regulation Relationship between Children and Economy

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Children as Consumers


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children as consumers
Children as Consumers
  • Adults’ concerns toward children’s vulnerability
    • Capitalist media colonizing children’s consciousness
    • Imposing false ideologies
    • Inculcating materialistic values
    • Therefore, calling for protection, censorship, regulation
  • Relationship between Children and Economy
    • Wide beliefs about essential nature of childhood (Jordanova)
      • Children as in sacred state of life
      • Naturally incompatible with the world of commodities
    • Economy: Transition from status of child to status of adult
rise of child consumer
Rise of Child Consumer
  • Human society in the past 50 years
    • Consumer activity increased (scope and scale)
    • Range of consumer goods increased
    • Shopping becoming popular
    • Availability of opportunities grown
  • Intensive marketing focus on children
    • Reduced family size
    • Increased divorce and single-parents
    • Increased disposable household income
    • Children with greater purchasing decision
    • Quantity of media programs for children (not necessarily in diversity or quality); Now, the Internet
advertisement entertainment and education
Advertisement, Entertainment and Education
  • Blurred difference between entertainment and education
  • Educational activities with advertising messages
  • Blurred boundaries between content and advertisement
  • Meanwhile, widening gap between information-rich and information poor
market and children
Market and Children
  • Some critics:
    • The market as inherently inimical to the true interests and needs of children
    • Commercial media as an incitement to consumerism and an exploration of children’s vulnerability
  • Other critics”
    • Market as an effective means of meeting children’s need
    • “What’s good for business is good for kids.”
critiques of advertising
Critiques of Advertising
  • Effects of advertising
    • Assumptions of inculcating consumerism and materialistic values
    • Accused of creating ‘false needs’
    • False ‘consumption ideal’ to overcome dissatisfaction and sense of powerlessness in daily life (irrational fantasies)
  • Critiques
    • False needs vs. True needs (Commercial vs. Uncontaminated)
    • Are children really ‘incompetent’ and ‘irrational’, and thus vulnerable to persuasion?
evidence from research behaviorist paradigm
Evidence from Research- Behaviorist Paradigm
  • Much evidence is weak or inconclusive
  • Younger children generally unable to remember and understand advertisements
  • Advertising is less significant as source of information than other sources such as peers and parents, or visits to the shops
  • Making limited contribution to children’s beliefs about the quality of products (eg., nutrition and food)
  • Contribution to broader ideologies and values —seem not sustained by available research
  • Difficulty in isolating a single factor from potential influences
evidence from research constructivist paradigm
Evidence from Research- Constructivist Paradigm
  • On cognitive processing rather than on effects
  • Arguing that attention to advertising is highly selective and interpretations diverse
  • At what age to become aware of difference between programs and advertisements?
    • Various estimates, but early
    • 7-8 well aware of advertisers’ motivation
    • Sometimes cynical
  • Generally, children are discriminating viewers
  • Not necessarily trust advertising
  • Attempt to compare with real-life experience
wise consumers author s research
Wise Consumers? (Author’s research)
  • Showing skepticism (age 8-12)
  • Clearly aware of the persuasive functions
  • Claiming to know about the production process and camera tricks
  • Asserting fakeness of before-and-after
  • Children seem to be equipped with ‘cognitive defenses’
  • Will they automatically use the ‘defenses’?
  • Critical discourse in research interviews; but still admit being influenced by advertising
wise consumers
Wise Consumers?
  • Some children are cynical, but some are ‘fans’ of advertisements (on aesthetic level, independent of product)
  • Is the issues really about the opposition between ‘rational’ and ‘emotional’ responses?
  • Limitations in isolating advertising from broad consumer culture
animating consumers
Animating Consumers
  • Merchandising (toys, T-shirt, theme parks…)
  • and trans-media intertextuality (drama, film, games…)
  • ‘Cartoon as program-length commercial’
  • Even public service TV tied in to generate revenue (e.g., Thomas the Tank Engine, Teletubbies)
  • Binary opposition between ‘public’ and ‘commercial’ necessary?
  • Children more vulnerable than adults? Highly questionable!
culture commerce and childhood
Culture, Commerce, and Childhood
  • Assertions Similar to the ‘Death of Childhood’
    • Culture
      • Pure, Eden-like space, source of positive moral and aesthetic values
    • Commerce
      • Culture invaded and corrupted by commerce
    • Electronic Media
      • Undermining traditional (healthier) preoccupation of street play, peer conversation
  • Two questions
    • Cultural value: ‘Golden Age’ vs. Contemporary television
    • The audience: Limited evidence about children (passive audience)
children and consumer culture
Children and Consumer Culture
  • Consumer Culture:
    • Modern capitalism: Investing symbolic values in material objects
    • Construction of social identity: Acquisition and use of material goods
  • Changing Approach (toward youth)
    • Now, emphasis on young people’s autonomy and freedom --- Consumer creating their own identity, diversely and innovatively
toward new policies
Toward New Policies
  • Seeking to protect children from marketplace vs. Preparing children:
  • Education
    • Understanding relationship with consumer culture and economic principles
  • Legal recognition of children’s right as consumers
    • Rights to accurate information, ‘consumer empowerment’
  • Examination of children’s cultural needs
    • Dialogue with children, rather than simply left to adults