Excerpt from Consuming Kids by Susan Linn, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Consuming Kids

The Hostile Takeover of Childhood

by Susan Linn

Consuming Kids by Susan Linn
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2004, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2005, 304 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


As my daughter progressed through elementary school, the press of commercialism was escalating at breakneck speed. Like all parents, I was coping with the effects of marketing at home. In 1996, as part of my work, I began to track its escalation in a broader sense as well. As the associate director of the Media Center of the Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston, Massachusetts, my mission was and is to work with media to promote the health and well-being of children and to mitigate the media's negative effects. I began to assess the growing body of research and reports documenting the impact of marketing on children. I immersed myself in the myriad books, journals, and newspapers written for and by people responsible for creating commercials and advertising campaigns that target children. I began talking to parent groups—and to children—about the effect of marketing on their lives. In recent years, a significant portion of my time has also been devoted to writing, speaking, and advocating on behalf of children in the marketplace.

Most parents struggle in one way or another to keep corporate culture at bay. In doing so they often feel beleaguered and quite alone. But I see their stories in the context of a large, cohesive, and frightening picture. The most common complaints about marketing to children center on specific products such as violent media, alcohol, tobacco, and, most recently, junk food. Yet to focus only on products is to underestimate the magnitude of the problem. Of equal concern are the sheer volume of advertising to which children are exposed, the values embedded in the marketing messages, and the behaviors those messages inspire.

Children have been targets for some kinds of advertising for a long, long time—from carnival barkers hawking freak shows to ads in comic books and, since their early days, radio and television. But it's not the same today. Comparing the advertising of two or three decades ago to the commercialism that permeates our children's world is like comparing a BB gun to a smart bomb. The explosion of marketing aimed at kids today is precisely targeted, refined by scientific method, and honed by child psychologists—in short, it is more pervasive and intrusive than ever before.

Today's children are assaulted by advertising everywhere—at home, in school, on sports fields, in playgrounds, and on the street. They spend almost forty hours a week engaged with the media—radio, television, movies, magazines, the Internet—most of which are commercially driven. The average child sees about about 40,000 commercials a year on television alone. Many, if not most, children's television programs, including those produced by the Public Broadcasting System (PBS), are funded through licensing, a practice that allows companies to market toys, clothing, and accessories based on characters or logos associated with a program.

Children, including very young children, often watch television by themselves, meaning that no adult is present to help them process marketing messages. Poor children, a population in which children of color are disproportionately represented, watch even more television than their middle- and upper-class counterparts. However, regardless of class, African American and Latino children watch more TV than Caucasian children.

While television remains the major medium through which advertisers target children, it's no longer the only medium. In the 1970s, people concerned about marketing to children worried mainly about the effects of TV commercials on Saturday mornings. Now the average American child lives in a home with three television sets, two CD players, three radios, a video game console, and a computer. Two-thirds of children between the ages of eight and eighteen have televisions in their bedrooms, as do 32 percent of two- to seven-year-olds, and 26 percent of children under two. Electronic media continues to proliferate while, as a nation, our willingness to embrace technology constantly outpaces our understanding of its cultural, social, and ethical implications.

From Consuming Kids by Susan Linn, pages 1-10. Copyright Susan Linn 2004. All rights reserved. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written permission from the publisher, The New Press.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

One-Month Free Membership

Discover your next great read here

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Goodbye Days
    Goodbye Days
    by Jeff Zentner
    Guilt can be a heavy burden for anyone to manage, but it's especially difficult for teenagers. ...
  • Book Jacket: The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley
    by Hannah Tinti
    Hannah Tinti follows her spectacular 2008 debut, The Good Thief, with a novel of uncommon ...
  • Book Jacket: Music of the Ghosts
    Music of the Ghosts
    by Vaddey Ratner
    Music of the Ghosts is about healing and forgiveness, but it is also about identity and the revival ...

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Nest
by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

A funny and acutely perceptive debut about four siblings and the fate of their shared inheritance.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Manderley Forever
    by Tatiana de Rosnay

    Bestselling author Tatiana de Rosnay pays homage to Daphne du Maurier.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    No One Is Coming to Save Us
    by Stephanie Powell Watts

    One of Entertainment Weekly, Nylon and Elle's most anticipated books of 2017.
    Reader Reviews

Who Said...

A library, to modify the famous metaphor of Socrates, should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas--a place ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

Solve this clue:

Y S M B, I'll S Y

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.

 
Modal popup -