In a culture that doesn't give kids a rest from being seduced and stimulated by advertising and other marketing strategies, it's important for children to possess super-savvy media skills, so that they can think critically and deeply about the messages and products being foisted on them at every turn, and can learn to make joyful, mindful, positive choices that affirm the lack of connection between happiness and stuff.
During last night's Raising a Humane Child Twitter Party, one parent mentioned that she and her kids play a game. When they watch commercials, they ask themselves questions about what the ad is trying to sell them. My husband and I (when we had a TV) used to play a similar game, only it was with the news - which stories are "news" and which ones are actually corporate video (or print) news releases?
If you want to help children protect and empower themselves from marketing and advertising, here are a few useful resources. You can use humane education activities like these:
Recommended for grades 5 and up.
Time: 45-60 minutes
Recommended for grades 6 and up.
Time: 30-45 minutes
Recommended for grades 8 and up
Time: 30-45 minutes
Time: One week of 45 minute class periods
Recommended for grades 8 and up.
Time: Two class periods, one week apart
(Check out our other culture and change humane ed activities.)
and consult books like these:
by Michael Jacobson and Laurie Ann Mazur
Westview Press, 1995.
Photos, examples, stories – a fantastic introduction to the effects of marketing on citizens.
Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood
by Susan Linn
The New Press, 2004.
A very important book on the effect of consumerism on children. (Check out a few teaching ideas for use with the book.)
Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child & the New Consumer Culture
by Juliet B. Schor
An eye-opening account of commercializing childhood & what concerned citizens can do.
If we teach children critical thinking and media literacy skills, then they will learn to reflect carefully and ask questions, rather than just blindly accepting what they hear and see.
Image courtesy of Pesky Library via Creative Commons.
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