Summary and book reviews of Consuming Kids by Susan Linn

Consuming Kids

The Hostile Takeover of Childhood

by Susan Linn

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

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Book Summary

A shocking exposé of the $15 billion marketing maelstrom aimed at our children and how we can stop it.

With the intensity of the California gold rush, corporations are racing to stake their claim on the consumer group formerly known as children. What was once the purview of a handful of companies has escalated into a gargantuan enterprise estimated at over $15 billion annually. While parents busily try to set limits at home, marketing executives work day and night to undermine their efforts with irresistible messages.

In Consuming Kids, psychologist Susan Linn takes a comprehensive and unsparing look at the demographic advertisers call "the kid market," taking readers on a compelling and disconcerting journey through modern childhood as envisioned by commercial interests. Children are now the focus of a marketing maelstrom, targets for everything from minivans to M&M counting books. All aspects of children's lives — their health, education, creativity, and values — are at risk of being compromised by their status in the marketplace.

Interweaving real-life stories of marketing to children, child development theory, the latest research, and what marketing experts themselves say about their work, Consuming Kids reveals the magnitude of this problem and shows what can be done about it.

Susan Linn is an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Associate Director of the Media Center at Judge Baker Children's Center. She is also co-founder of the coalition Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children. She lives in Brookline, Massachusetts, with her husband and daughter.

Foreword

Acknowledgments

Introduction: The Marketing Maelstrom

  1. Notes from the Underground: Thirty-Six Hours at a Marketing Conference
  2. A Consumer in the Family: The Nag Factor and Other Nightmares
  3. Branded Babies: From Cradle to Consumer
  4. Endangered Species: Play and Creativity
  5. Students for Sale: Who Profits from Marketing in Schools?
  6. Through Thick and Thin: The Weighty Problem of Food Marketing
  7. Peace-Keeping Battle Stations and Smackdown!: Selling Kids on Violence
  8. From Barbie and Ken to Britney, the Bratz, and Beyond: Sex As Commodity
  9. Marketing, Media, and the First Amendment: What's Best for Children?
  10. Joe Camel Is Dead, but Whassup with Those Budweiser Frogs?: Hooking Kids on Alcohol and Tobacco
  11. If Values Are Right, What's Left?: Life Lessons from Marketing
  12. Ending the Marketing Maelstrom: You're Not Alone

Appendix Resources

Notes

Suggested Reading

Index


Introduction:
The Marketing Maelstrom

My daughter is a popular kid these days. Taco Bell wants her, and...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
About This Book

Enticing ads on prime-time television, special promotions with McDonald's and other fast-food outlets, and corporate symbols and slogans on T-shirts, caps, backpacks, and more–they're all part of our children's everyday world. Once dominated by a few entertainment and toy companies, the onslaught of corporate come-ons directed at kids has exploded into an all-out battle that pitches the best intentions of parents against the commercial interests and formidable marketing budgets of gigantic corporations. With infant clothing festooned with designer logos, corporate-sponsored newscasts in schools, and popular teen idols representing the hottest brand names, the marketers' dream of winning customer ...
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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

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Consuming Kids is a very scary read - which makes it all the more important that it is read.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (316 words).

Media Reviews

The Washington Post - Catherine Tumber

Linn makes a compelling case for restricting commercial access to children, moving the debate beyond the influence of sexual and violent programming and concentrating on how the sheer volume of marketing aimed at controlling youthful imagination is what should most concern us. Play, she notes, following psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott, comes naturally to children, who, by imaginatively engaging the world within safe boundaries, develop rich inner lives, creativity, critical thinking and autonomy in adulthood. But anything that facilitates free play is precisely what the loud voice of commerce cannot endure.

Publishers Weekly

Linn works hard not only to put together a truly devastating case against the marketers... Savvy enough to avoid sounding like someone's old maiden aunt, Linn presents a socially conscious account that deserves wide exposure.

Library Journal - Heather O'Brien

This illuminating read has a place on all library shelves next to Alissa Quart's Branded The Buying and Selling of Teenagers.

Author Blurb T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., Professor Emeritus, Harvard Medical School
A splendid book — a call to arms for parents today. Consuming Kids lays out the ingredients of a fight back, giving back control to parents, and their children. Our children as consumers are being consumed. We can and must take back our parental roles in this media battle.

Author Blurb Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Judge Baker Children's Center
Consuming Kids outlines, with considerable passion, what we must do to protect our children from becoming prey in an out-of-control culture of commercialism. It should be read by every parent, policymaker, and professional who works with children.

Reader Reviews

Mari LaFore

Scare Tactics
As the mother of two grown children, I find Ms.Lynn's book to be propagana at it's best. It insults the intelligence of any parent and any child who is not totally gullible. Children are attracted to toys and books of their favorite characters and ...   Read More

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Is government regulation such a tall order?  I don't think so. Firstly it's only in the past couple of decades that companies in the USA have been given such free reign to market to children in the USA - before this there were far tighter controls.  Secondly, other countries manage it, so why not the USA?  For example, Sweden, Norway and Finland ban marketing to children under 12, ...

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