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Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Children from the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising Paperback – August 9, 2005
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“A powerful warning and wake-up call.” –Marian Wright Edelman
“Forces us to see a world in which it is considered legitimate to treat children and their tastes as market potential and to manipulate them accordingly accordingly.” –Penelope Leach
“A call to arms. . . . We can and must take back our parental roles.” –T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.
“A cri de coeur on behalf of people too young to suspect how their ‘share of mind’ is being jealously divided. . . . Linn does a fine job of exposing the wickedness of preying commercially on the young.” –The Wall Street Journal
“Arguing passionately . . . Linn makes a compelling case for restricting commercial access to children.” –The Washington Post Book World
“A measured, but ultimately devastating, critique of consumerism and American childhood.” –Mother Jones
“A take-charge book [filled with] a multitude of amazing and often terrifying facts. . . . An important and startling book that should be read not only by parents, but by policymakers as well.” –Rocky Mountain News
“The most disturbing book of the year–a fact-filled study of just how commercialized childhood has become.” –The Weekly Standard
“At last a book that provides the data, the arguments, and the passion that can be mobilized to end marketing to children. Susan Linn is a hero of our times.” –Howard Gardner, author of Changing Minds
“Like Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation, Linn . . . put[s] together a truly devastating case . . . couch[ed] in the most reasonable terms possible. . . . A socially conscious account that deserves wide exposure.” –Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Linn presents a salient, substantial, and worrying case. . . . As useful as it is serious, this book is necessary reading for parents.” –Alissa Quart, author of Branded
“[A] forceful exposé. . . . Illuminating.” –Library Journal (starred review)
“A compelling and compassionate critique. . . . If you’re thinking marketing to kids has gotten out of hand, and are wondering what to do, this book is for you. . . . Susan Linn has provided a road map for taking back the culture of childhood.” –Juliet B. Schor, author of Born To Buy
“Generous with both advice and the names of organizations already on the case.” –The Boston Globe
About the Author
Susan Linn is Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Associate Director of the Media Center at Judge Baker Children’s Center in Boston. An award-winning producer and ventriloquist, she is internationally known for her pioneering work using puppets as therapeutic tools with children and is co-founder of the coalition Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.
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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.
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.