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Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood Hardcover – May 6, 2004

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation, Linn is able to write about a subject people care about and avoid the shrillness that can make such books a chore to read. A psychologist and children's advocate, Linn is openly critical of the corporate bottom line and focuses on what will benefit children and families. Her exhaustively researched picture is of a $15 billion industry in near-total denial about the effects it has. Executives traffic in transparently self-serving rhetoric, extolling the educational value of such seemingly bland fare as Teletubbies or claiming to be developing toddlers' incipient need for control. The concept of "prenatal marketing" need not be exhaustively described to send a shiver down the spine of any mother-to-be. Linn points out that successful marketing is often in direct opposition to what's good for society. Sex, violence and sugar-packed snacks obviously hold great appeal for youngsters, and there exists, he says, no countervailing social force to effectively check their influence. Linn demonstrates how marketers research methods to make children more effective naggers-thus undermining parental authority-and TV programming executives spike the chilling metric known as "jolts per minute." Linn works hard not only to put together a truly devastating case against the marketers, but also to couch it in the most reasonable terms possible; indeed, the entire book is really an appeal to common sense: that we as a society take better care of our children. Savvy enough to avoid sounding "like someone's old maiden aunt," Linn presents a socially conscious account that deserves wide exposure.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Marketing executives have targeted children as the ultimate consumers because they are easily manipulated and able to extract dollars from their parents to satisfy manufactured desires, often against their parents' better judgment. Linn, psychologist and parent, examines how corporate America exploits children and deliberately infects them with obsessive American consumerism. Linn cites research and behind-the-scenes information on marketing strategies that include emphasis on brand names, extreme individualism, and consumerism and the increasing use of child psychologists to plumb knowledge about the vulnerabilities of children, all with a cynical disregard for their welfare. The campaigns--tie-ins between children's characters and products and fast-food meals--blur the lines between programming, literature, and commercial marketing. Linn critiques parents, herself included, for their inability to protect children from aggressive "guerilla" marketing and offers suggestions on how parents can resist their children's whining for the products they've been encouraged to want and lists resources parents can use to take public action against advertisers. An eye-opening look at marketing to children. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: The New Press; First Edition edition (May 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565847830
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565847835
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #991,400 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Ashley Lemmon on September 14, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Parents, grandparents, teachers, caretakers, and anyone who cares about children and the future of our nation, must read Susan Linn's, Consuming Kids, and take action. At it's core, Consuming Kids, examines the negative affects that marketing and advertising have on children. The disturbing fact is that marketing to children is a booming industry that is essentially profiting from programming children. The question Linn presents to the reader is: who is responsible for shaping our children? Is it McDonald's? Is it the Worldwide Wrestling Federation? Is it Pepsi? Is it Barbie? Linn argues and I agree with her, that today's generation of children are not basing their identity or values around those of their parents or friends, but are rather being shaped by brands and large corporations.

I myself am a student of media and marketing, having chosen a major in Communication Arts. In addition to this, I have spent my past six summers as a full-time nanny, and one day hope to be a mother myself. Why is this so important? All of these credentials provided me with the ability to read Linn's book from many different perspectives, however, in the end I received the same message no matter through what lens I was looking; marketing to children needs to stop, not only for children's benefit, but also for the benefit and well-being of society.

Linn brings a new perspective, as a mother and an Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Linn also serves as Associate Director of the Media Center at Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston. Her background allows her to speak from a mother's perspective, while also utilizing her experience in psychology when examining some of the tactics in campaigning and marketing to children.
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Format: Hardcover
I learned about this book from the author when she was a guest on a local radio talk show. I like to describe my opinion as "not-so-humble-yet-worthless". In the case of this book that would be especially so, because I'm not married and don't have any children (a confession for which I am fully prepared to be lambasted behind, because I have the nerve to have an opinion on the topic).

Now that I've gotten that off my chest...I feel that this book was very good at shining a light on the ever increasing problem of the marketing and advertising blitz of consumer products that targets teens and working it's way all the way down to infants. I especially liked Linn's work as a "mole" during a marketing and advertising conference, how she exposes the way public schools have now become a hotbed for marketing executives, and I found myself empathizing with parents who are sports (mainly baseball & football) fanatics that may feel as if watching a sporting event on television is an indirect encouragement to drink, because of the flood of beer commercials that usually accompany televised sporting events.

I happened to be reading a portion of the book on a Saturday morning, and as I put the book down to turn on the television, the channel just happened to be on Fox. Linn speaks in specific detail about every single thing that I saw in that short TV break...
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Format: Hardcover
The central premise of this book is that parents are being told that it is their responsibility--not that of the government or private industry--to shield children from the harmful effects of marketing while at the same time, advertisers are using methods specifically intended to undermine parents' efforts. Young children are extremely vulnerable to advertising, and marketers exploit that vulnerability without any concern about the well-being of the children or the population at large. It is not realistic to expect parents to have control over these influences when they come from all directions and with such force.

What is most disturbing about this well-researched study is how unabashedly exploitative the advertising industry has become toward children. They are proud of "cradle to grave" marketing that can begin when children are toddlers or infants. The "nag factor" is considered a perfectly reasonable way to get children to convince their parents to buy them things. Harmful products such as obesity-inducing fast foods, nicotine, and alcohol are pushed the hardest at children, and statistics show that even the most well-intentioned and involved parents can fail teach their children to make wise choices.

The only reason I do not give this book 5 stars is that the author focuses primarily on child-directed consumerism. As a parent, I have experienced the secondary effects of marketing when I've purchased over-hyped products for my son that he hasn't even asked for. Such is the power of advertising that parents become trained to anticipate what they will be nagged for.

The suggestions offered to parents in this book range from actions we can take at home to political issues we can champion to help protect our children.
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