on January 20, 2006
This book has really helped us to open our eyes and look at our current culture and how it might impact our new son. It covers media and mass marketing and how unscrupulous marketing to children has become. Before I read this I didn't understand just how insidious some of the marketing is and I would just mark parents who complained about it as "a little crazy or too strict".
I know of parents who are experiencing some of the issues brought up in the book: the wrestling and anger mgt problems, girls trying to dress too old etc. And these kids live in good homes, with parents trying their best to raise them right. As I read the book I started to make correlations all over the place. I think the author hit the issues spot-on.
Because of this book we do NOT turn on the TV when he is awake anymore and make purchasing decisions more wisely.
I originally checked this out of the library, but decided it was a keeper and purchased it. I am also recommending it to many of my friends of kids of all ages.
"Consuming Kids" by Susan Linn builds a solid case against marketing to children. As a Harvard educator specializing in psychiatry and a children's entertainer, Ms. Linn is in an unique position to understand how corporate marketing harms and exploits children's psychic vulnerabilities for profit. Written for a general audience, the author inspires and encourages us to join the campaign to protect children from commercial exploitation.
On the one hand, Ms. Linn's feigned sense of outrage and overly reliant use of rhetorical questions tends to make some of her arguments appear somewhat contrived. For example, the author relates to us her shock upon discovering that businesspeople at a particular professional marketing conference were principally concerned with gaining market share and not with the best interests of children. While her descriptions of some of the invasive techniques that have been cooked up by marketers to cynically manipulate children in service to the corporate bottom line are objectionable, few but the most myopic readers should be surprised.
On the other hand, the facts remain indisputably on Ms. Linn's side. The author cites numerous studies that document the negative consequences associated with marketing junk food, alcohol, violence and sex to children. To cite just one example, we learn that the habitual viewing of wrestling programs on TV is highly correlated with risky behaviors among boys including reckless driving, drinking and fighting. The author is at her best towards the end of the book as she applies her analytical skills to consider how young people might be conditioned by the marketing industry into a state of compulsion and consumption to the point where their ability to participate in meaningful democratic discourse has been irreparably impaired. Ms. Linn goes on to provide us with a list of worthy organizations that are dedicated to the struggle of curbing the marketing onslaught in order to help build a better future for our children and ourselves.
I recommend this informative and persuasive book to everyone.
on October 17, 2012
Susan Linn is the co-founder and director of the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and Associate Director of the Media Center at Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston. She has spent much of her life fighting against marketing to children and educating on how much of an impact it has on kids. Right now she lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband and daughter and is a professor at Harvard Medical School for Psychiatry. She has written many articles that have shown up in renowned newspapers including the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post. Apart from the articles, Linn has written books about marketing and the impact on children: The Case for Make-Believe: Saving Play in Our Commercialized World, Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Children, and the book that I read Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Kids From the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising are the books that she has written. As well as writing, she is a award winning ventriloquist. (Susan)
Susan Linn's current website provides information on who she is and some of what she has done. It gives reviews of two of her books, a short bio, some marketing and advertising related facts, some important links related to what she does, and her articles. Her website has not been updated since 2008 though, so I am sure that there is new information that is missing. Overall, the website gives an overview of who Susan Linn is, what she stands for, and what she has done.1 (Susan)
Susan Linn in Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Kids From the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising makes some interesting points throughout the entire book. She is first and foremost against the use of marketing and advertising on children because of the effect that it has on them. She believes that marketing Agencies are corrupting and influencing the children in the United States. As of now, marketers are in charge of regulating who and how marketers can advertise to, and she does not agree with that policy. Linn wants the government to step in and regulate marketing so that children will be protected from the profit driven marketers that are supposed to be doing so. She believe that they are just using the lack of guidance as an opportunity to exploit children for profit. The Federal Trade Commission is supposed to be the "watchdog" over the marketing agencies, but they do not have the authority. They need to regain their authority to protect young children so that they are no longer treated as objects to attain profit in the industry. (Linn)
Children are vulnerable because they are young and do not know the difference between what is real and what is being used to influence them. Marketing companies use children's vulnerabilities to their advantage. Children have a natural want to be older than they actually are, so marketers use older children to sell products to younger children because the former feels the need to be like them. Younger children are becoming more and more interested in products that older children were interested in before. Marketing companies see this as children maturing faster and younger and use that to sell their products to a broader base, when in fact they are pushing products on kids that are not mature enough to handle them. Children are being exposed to more media that was only intended for adults than ever before. The Simpsons are watched by many children even though it is an adult show because it is animated and many people think that animation is for kids when in some cases it most definitely is not. The problem is that kids are unable to understand sarcasm and irony which are largely used in that type of television show. They take everything that they hear literally. (Linn)
Marketers also use the vulnerabilities of the parents to their advantage. Linn talked a lot about the "nag factor" or "pester power" that children have over them. Marketer place things into their adds that are easily recognized and remembered that appeal to children and encourage them to nag at their parents to get it for them. Society thinks that parents should "just say no," but it not that easy. They do not want to be portrayed as the "bad guy," and with a lot of the advertising that children are exposed to, they are shown to be just that because they do not know what children like; only the company selling the product knows best. The marketing industry tries to undermine the authority that parents have over their kids. Parents eventually give in because they get tired of the nagging and buy their child what they are asking for. The industry thinks that is solely the parent's responsibility to protect their children from marketing and advertising, but Linn believes that marketers should share that responsibility to keep children's best interests their highest priority. (Linn)
Linn also says that materialism is becoming a major issue and marketers are using that to their advantage as well because it is the things that are important, not one particular thing. Overall, Susan Linn wants the regulating of marketing and advertising to move away from the industry and to the government, the FTC. She does not like the idea that children are being "protected" by the same people that are exploiting them. (Linn)
I at least partially agree with what Susan Linn says in Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Kids From the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising. I agree that children should not be treated like objects and that marketers should not use their vulnerabilities against them in order to attain a large profit. What she says is very true about how the industry is exploiting children. I do not agree that we should give regulation solely to the government; that would only create more problems. I think that it should be a combination of the government and the industry. The marketing industry should come up with fair regulations that all marketers and advertisers should have to follow that protect children, and the Federal Trade Commission should have the responsibility of enforcing the rules and disciplining those who deviate. It should be a combined effort to regulate marketing because if it is just done by on side, problems will never be solved.
I think that this book would be beneficial to many people if they read it. Anyone that is in the marketing industry, especially child marketing should read it because it looks into the harm that marketing can cause children and the negative effects, not just the profit side. It is necessary for the best interests of children to be known and recognized by those who are trying to sell them things. I believe that parents should read this book because it exposes what the marketing industry is doing. Reading it would allow parents to know what is going on and how what their children are seeing can effect them. The book also gives them the opportunity to counteract what marketers are trying to do. Finally I would recommend Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Kids From the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising to anyone that has an interest in marketing and children because it is beneficial to be exposed to what is really going on behind commercials and other advertisement.
on February 15, 2010
This book should be "required reading" for kids in high school and/or college, to understand the impact of media on our society and our spending behavior. Maybe it would prepare some of them better for parenting as adults. All parents really NEED to read this book - to be aware of how marketers are trying to "train" our children to be highly consumptive of any product that is available. Americans would be outraged at the conscious manipulation of our children by the media, targeting even the youngest aged children, if they knew what was really going on. Susan Linn did just that - attended national marketing conferences to gain insight into the goals of these marketing companies. Dr. Linn is a children's psychologist at Harvard Medical Center, so she is a very credible reference.
on January 20, 2010
Linn makes a strong case about how the marketing industry does everything to undermine parents. I read this book to learn more about the commercialization of childhood after seeing the film "Consuming Kids" (highly recommend this film!). I am outraged and disappointed that as parents we have so little room to fight the corporate greed that has marketing to kids as a 15 billion dollar industry. Linn provides concrete ways to combat marketing as parents, professionals in the community, foundations, members of the clergy, and policy makers can do. Included is a great appendix of organizations with contact information as well.
I am glad I read this book and highly recommend it to others who care about the well being of children.
on October 4, 2007
This book was a real wake up call to an already wary consumer. After reading this, you will understand exactly how relentless and saavy the advertising industry is at getting kids to successfully beg/nag for unneeded and/or potentially harmful products. One of the main conclusions of the book is that television is not appropriate for children 2 and under. Over that age, parents should use extreme discretion. Don't give advertisers the "cradle to grave" brand loyalty they are seeking. That's just nuts.
on February 1, 2010
To me this is kind of a 'duh' book. Of course marketing targets our kids, and of course if greatly influences them. Nothing new. But if it opens people's eyes that did not yet realize this, and especially if it changes their attitudes towards children and television/videos...then great-- it should be read.
on April 16, 2009
I bought this book for a nutritional CEU coarse and was extremely disappointed. Ms. Linn is barking up the wrong tree. Why are kids fat? There are not any moms who actually stay home and cook a decent meal any more! There is no one home anymore limiting television viewing. Why are kids sexually active--I think that TV and the internet are worse than the commercials. Parents don't parent anymore, but it is not the governments job to raise children. If you think that you can "fight" marketing, think again--the marketing towards adults is what makes for crappy parents in the first place--it appeals to our selfish desires for food, being lazy, being lustful and greedy.