Children’s Well-being: The effects of Child Consumerism

May 18th, 2015

By Laurel Pascal

There has been serious concern today that child involvement in consumer culture has had a major effect on children’s well-being and their relationship with their parents. Marketers have essentially become the source of contention between the two parties as they create conflicts between the parent and the child. Marketers have developed advertising strategies, which aim to create this “utopian” (160) space for children in a rule-free zone in which parents essentially become the enemy. Through these antiadultism strategies, the main question becomes “Do children who are directly influenced by the marketers techniques experience more negative feelings towards their parents? Do they see their parents as the target getting in their way of acquiring the things they want?” Studies have proved that there is a direct causal link between higher levels of consumer involvement by children and poorer relationships between parents and children. Those kids who are much more involved with media tend to fight and disagree with their parents much more because their parents become the obstacle in their way of attaining goods. The study also suggests that as the relationship between parents and children become worse off, this leads to a negative effect on children’s well-being. When a child is not connecting with their parents, they face a much higher risk of facing depression, anxiety, lower self-esteem, and more psychosomatic complaints. Thus, consumer culture affects children both directly and indirectly.

The American culture is one that is centrally based off of consuming and spending. This creates many problems within society as people are constantly comparing and contrasting what they are consuming or in fact what they are not consuming. As society continues to progress and revolutionize, the age at which kids start thinking about consumption becomes lower and lower each year. Children are constantly exposed to various advertisements and become victims of marketers advertising strategies and messages. Every child wants the new best thing on the market. However, through constant exposure to media, each “new best thing” becomes old fast. Before you know it, new toys or foods or products are invented, and suddenly children feel as though what they have is no longer “cool” anymore. Children start nagging their parents for more and more and when the parent refuses to buy the item, the child sees the parents as the enemy. Thus, this drive and need for attaining the next new cool material good has left children feeling inadequate about themselves and their backgrounds.

Conclusively, in our world of constant exposure to the media, marketers have found a new market to target, which is the child population. The child market has become a greatly successful market as marketers take advantage of children’s naivety and their intense need to attain certain products. In an environment driven by consumption and the need to attain material goods, this has created troublesome relationships between kids and their parents as well as kids and themselves. The parent has become the target in kid’s way of getting what they want and see in the advertisements. Additionally, kids exposure to new products on a daily basis has driven them to suffer from self-esteem issues and feeling like what they have will never be enough.


SOURCE: Schor, Juliet. Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer. New York: Scribner, 2004.

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