Consumerism: Childhood and Consumer Goods

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Consumerism is a very important aspect in the life of each and every individual. Everyday, people who live in developed countries are faced with endless choices. These choices appear every where in advertisements through television and radio commercials, advertisements posted in public places, magazines, etc. Consumerism takes form in these advertisements that makes us seem imperfect. Their goal is to make us buy products to satisfy ourselves. Children are born into a world of consumerism, asking parents to buy them things just because they want it. Most of us are lured into consumerism one way or another. Consumerism begins early in life; in fact, it begins when a child is born. When a child is brought into this world, parents are faced with endless choices of baby supplies like dippers, milk, clothing, etc. Since parents love their baby, they only want the best for their child. As a child grows, toys are bought and given to the child to play with. Parents are encouraged to buy educational toys and consumer goods to help jumpstart the baby’s understanding of the world (Dale, 2005). Before they learn to talk, children show their interest for a toy by reaching out or grabbing it; children also show a disinterest for a toy by crying or throwing the toy away. As babies, children are busy exploring and interacting with the environment which provides optimal conditions for cognitive development (Walsh, 1990). Babies are typically interested in something that isn’t familiar to them. Since there are a variety of toys, babies tend to go through toys like they go through dippers. This is good for industries or companies with consumer products because subconsciously, the babies are picking and choosing. As babies become toddlers, they learn to walk and talk. It is at this stage where they become very repetitive and annoying. Toddlers tend to want almost everything they see. If another sibling has a certain toy, they toddler will want it. It is also at this age where toddlers are exposed to television. Parents place the child in the play pin and turn on the television to a cartoon show to grasp the child’s attention. While waiting for the show to come on or during a break from the show, toddlers are exposed to consumer commercials.

Television commercials not only entice toddlers to want a specific toy, but it also suggests gender roles to toddlers. As a baby, children are exposed to their gender by the color they wear. As they become toddlers, they are exposed to different toys to associate them with the gender roles they will play later on in life. This is simply done by staring boys playing with action figures, cars, water guns, etc. in commercials; while on the other hand, girls are shown playing with dolls, cooking sets, make-up, etc. Another goal of consumerism is to subconsciously train children to grow up to be consumers, as Walsh (1990) calls this adultification. Television commercials are not the only way children learn gender roles or want learn to want certain toys. The shows they watch also teach children about gender roles. Just like there are toys for girls and toys for boys, there are television shows for girls, and television shows for boy. For girls, these television shows usually teach them to clean, be patient, etc. For boys, television shows usually teach them to be destructive, etc. Sweden has banned children’s commercials because there was a study done to prove that children under the age of ten were unable to differentiate between commercials and the program, and that children under the age of 12 were unable to define the purpose of advertising (Dale, 2005). Television plays a great part in gender association and consumerism. But, friends and family are next in line to teach consuming to children. When toddlers go to school or out for dinner with family and friends, they always bring a few toys with them. When toddlers play together, they realize that they do not have the same toy as...
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