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Trapped by Materialism

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Running head: MATERIALISM 1

Trapped By Materialism
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MATERIALISM 2
Trapped By Materialism
Nowadays there are so many temptations around us, such as brand-name clothing, fashion jewelries, new technology and so on. It is hard to resist them, especially for children and teenagers. When children get a little bit older, they sometimes develop a yearning for those things, which make them believe that if owning these things will make them happiness. So they become more and more materialistic as we see in today’s society, they may satisfy in materials, but is materialism really good? It seems like materialism is hard to escape, and has direct influence on self-esteem and competition in children and teenagers, and in return experience negative effects.
Self-esteem is important because it is determines children’s and teenagers’ values. Children should be innocence, not materialistic. However teenagers, grow up as materialistic people. Typically they think having possessions can help them get the respect and attention from other people. Self-esteem is brought influences about the children’s socializing value by our emphasis on materialism. As Skafte (1989) described in his research that for teens who have a “wealthy” image can make friends more easily (as cited in Golderg, Gorn, Peracchio & Bamoosy, 2003, p279.) For example, when I was in middle school, there was a classmate who had very few friends in our class. Almost no one wanted to play with him unless he got some cool stuff to show others. He figured he would make friends by having those items. Because of he do not have enough confidence to socialize with other classmates, he tended to use the material possessions get attention hoping to make new friends by impressing them. That may have misled him to believe the items are the only way to improve his self-esteem.
In addition, low self-esteem may affect children’s and teenagers’ beliefs that superficial
MATERIALISM 3 appearance is valued over internal beauty. Especially for teenagers, they worry about their appearance in front of other people more than they worry about their academics, and doing for others how they treat each other. As Christopher (2007) explained, kids will become more popular when they wear more fancy and expensive clothes than others (para.3). For example, one of my high school classmates spent over one hour putting on makeup and deciding what she was going to wear for the day. Because she thought having a poor appearance would lower other people’s opinions of her, she spent a lot of money buying makeup products and expensive clothing to make herself feel more confident in school. Therefore, her low self-esteem influenced her superficial look of beauty. One of the many reasons that people, particularly teens, want to buy things is the brand name. This will show that a person’s wealth will be displayed for everyone to see.
On top of buying expensive material possessions, teenagers also compete for the newest and most expensive things such as name brand purses and newest technology. It is true that children look up to other peers while striving for the latest gadgets from Apple every month. They assume that having the newest and priciest items is necessary. Not only do they want the newest items, but they also want the best compared to others. Based on this kind of competition, they become more desire for items grow. Daniel (2007) explained that some kids may exclude people who cannot compete with them (as cited in Christopher,2007,para.4). For example, when teenagers spring for the expensive pair of jeans, they are doing so not for themselves, but for the people around them. They want to be sure that everyone recognizes what they have.
Competing for material possessions can either make children greedy by showing off what they have or embarrassed by what they do not have. They are constantly trying to outdo
MATERIALISM 4 each other when it comes to the things they own. This is not just affecting teens. One of my friends told me how her daughter who was barely 10 years old and has begun demanding iPads, iPods, iPhones, smart phones and even filling up her wardrobe with expensive and name-brand clothing similar to what her friends have. Even a child believes having more and the newest of things is important.
Being materialistic brings many negative effects. Firstly, children and teens will waste money, most of time their parents’ money. Sometimes they do not realize how hard their parents have to work to support them. Typically, teenagers are growing up in a world where the aspect in life is want rather than need. They are ungrateful and ask to buy things that they want but do not need. By the time children are in their teenage years, they know how to get their parents to buy them what they want and need. This is shown by the increase in spending by parents on their older children in comparison to those with younger children. For instance, often I hear about many children ask their parents to buy something newest, but actually they already had similar things. Apparently, they do not need those things but just for show others they always can get the best.
Secondly, being materialistic may make children and teens too dependent on material possessions. In PNC Financial Group’s (2007) study that more than fifty-six percent of teens considered having a rich lifestyle is most important (as cited in Christopher, 2007, para.9). Meanwhile, by Harris (2007) survey shows seventy-four percent of teens believe the more money they spent the happier they felt (as cited in Christopher, 2007, para.9). People rely too much on things and forget how to function in the world without them. For today’s children and teens rely heavily on material goods in order to be fit in their friends ' circle and society. However, if they do not have enough money or their parents cannot afford them so MATERIALISM 5 much, they may resort to doing bad things such as stealing to get the things they want. Materialism is shaping the teens perspective on values, so that in their minds, materialism equals happiness. Unfortunately, as Kasser (2007) explained that owned materials not equal happiness, the more they spent, the less happy they got (as cited in Christopher, 2007, para.11).
Overall, the low self-esteem and competition in children and teenagers cause they became materialistic and expression negative effects. By my own experience, I still remembered my mom gave me 2 RMB (32 cent) every day for my school snack (breakfast) when I was a child. With 32 cent, I could get a bowl of noodle soup or the popular Chinese traditional breakfast. Throughout my years of childhood life, I didn 't have fancy electronic gadgets or go crazy for brand goods. Instead of these I lived throughout the typical childhood life like socializing with friends at the playground, biking or playing with dolls. Unfortunately, children these days live different childhood lives compared to what I had been. Especially for teens, this stage in life is most important for development. Ideal person not only want to satisfy in the material possessions, but also want to satisfy at the spirit aim. It is very sad that teenagers are living in a world where the idea of want over need is more relevant.

MATERIALISM 6
References
Goldberg, M.E., Gorn, G., Peracchio, L., & Bamossy, G. (2003). Understanding materialism among youth. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 13(3), 278-288. Retrieved from http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-consumer-psychology/
Christopher, M. How much is enough? Current Health 2, 2007, 34(4), 16-19. Retrieved from http://currenthealth.com/

References: Goldberg, M.E., Gorn, G., Peracchio, L., & Bamossy, G. (2003). Understanding materialism among youth. Journal of Consumer Psychology, 13(3), 278-288. Retrieved from http://www.journals.elsevier.com/journal-of-consumer-psychology/ Christopher, M. How much is enough? Current Health 2, 2007, 34(4), 16-19. Retrieved from http://currenthealth.com/

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