What are your kids watching?

It was really easy for me to avoid over exposing my daughters to commercialism when they were under five.  But now they are close to seven and they have a pretty good understanding that commercials just try to get you to buy things.  They also understand that they will not get what they want when they want it.  When they did get the “Gimmies” I would use the experience to teach them “You are not always going to get what you want when you want it. And you have to be ok with that.”

When it comes to my three and a half year old, I am having a very different experience.  Unlike the girls, it is very difficult to sheild him from everything the kids absorb.  His sisters have the maturity to understand things he can’t.  It seems he has been exposed to so much more through television, and just being around older kids all the time.  Not only does he want,want, want, he tells me every day all day that he needs guns, swords, and weapons of all sorts.  I am at my wits end.  On the one hand he is only pretending, but on the other I feel like if I give in to just one weapon, it will be a gateway to a lifestyle I do not want to encourage.

I think a realistic approach to exposing your kids to media is better in the long run, but there are things you can do to protect their innocense while they are young.  I have been searching for information about protecting my children from commercialization.  Here is what I found.

Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.

Who we are

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups, parents, and individuals who care about children.  A project of Third Sector New England in Boston, CCFC is the only national organization devoted to limiting the impact of commercial culture on children.  CCFC’s staff and Steering Committee are activists, authors, and leading experts on the impact of media and marketing on children.  Most of us are also parents.

Our mission

CCFC’s mission is to reclaim childhood from corporate marketers.  A marketing-driven media culture sells children on behaviors and values driven by the need to promote profit rather than the public good.  The commercialization of childhood is the link between many of the most serious problems facing children, and society, today.  Childhood obesity, eating disorders, youth violence, sexualization, family stress, underage alcohol and tobacco use, rampant materialism, and the erosion of children’s creative play, are all exacerbated by advertising and marketing.  When children adopt the values that dominate commercial culture—dependence on the things we buy for life satisfaction, a “me first” attitude, conformity, impulse buying, and unthinking brand loyalty—the health of democracy and sustainability of our planet are threatened.  CCFC works for the rights of children to grow up—and the freedom for parents to raise them—without being undermined by commercial interests.

What we do:

CCFC advocates for the adoption of government policies that limit corporate marketers’ access to children. We mobilize parents, educators, and health care providers to stop the commercial exploitation of children.

We hold corporations accountable for their egregious marketing practices and, in doing so, highlight both the failures of self-regulation and the need for government policies limiting corporate marketers’ access to children.

  • We are building a substantial network of organizations and individuals who serve as a grassroots support for efforts to stop the commercial exploitation of children.
  • We garner substantial media coverage for campaigns that highlight the advertising and marketing industries’ unending assault on children.
  • We are the leading resource for parents, press, researchers, advocates, and legislators interested in gathering information about marketing to children.
  • We partner with organizations concerned about commercialism and those whose goals are undermined by advertising and marketing to children, including environmental groups as well as health and educational organizations.
  • We bring people together. Our national Consuming Kids summits provide a wealth of information and a much needed opportunity for informal networking among parents, professionals, and advocates concerned about the Commercialization of Childhood.
  • We create tools for reclaiming childhood from corporate marketers at home, at school, and in the community.
  • The Fred Rogers Integrity Award, named in honor of the beloved host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, is given by CCFC to the public figure whose efforts to protect children from harmful marketing best embody Fred Rogers’ long-standing commitment to nurturing the health and well-being of America’s children.
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