"The Awful Truth About Television: Why kids NAG"
Viewers log in 50,000 commercials per year
Commercials are another significant problem with TV watching. Viewer’s pocketbooks are the primary victim. The average person who logs in 4½ hours of TV per day also tunes in to more than 50,000 commercials per year. Even if adults can resist the manipulative marketing tactics, children do not have the ability to discern fact from fiction from cheap advertising.
Marketers target children and teach them to nag
Worse, during each of those cute commercials, your children are facing an army of ruthless marketers who want to teach and encourage your child to nag for their products until you purchase them. The marketing term is the “Nag Factor”, or how many sales companies can make from kids who beg, plead, and yes. . .NAG their parents.
Once upon a time, society viewed children as precious beings that parents and society needed to protect until they learned to navigate in the larger world. Today TV marketers literally look upon your kids as cash cows. Take heed of the words of one of the gurus of this trend, James McNeal: “With all their purchases ahead of them, and with their ability to pull their parents along, children are the brightest star in the consumer constellation.” [emphasis added]
McNeal sees three separate markets in children. There is the primary market—children’s allowances, part-time jobs, and other direct income. There is the influence (read ‘nagging’) market in which children “pull their parents along” to purchase goods and services. Then there is the future market, which envisions customers who are branded for life.
Alternatively, consider the words of Cheryl Idell, a pioneer in teaching kids how to nag: "Nagging falls into two categories," she explains. "There is persistent nagging, the fall-on-the-floor kind, and there is importance nagging, where a kid can talk about it." In other words, Ms. Idell teaches and encourages your children to argue with you, which can also stress your family relationships.
How marketers plan to "brand" your children for life
It is no accident that children's environments have become saturated with logos and characters associated with corporations. To brand children for life, marketers deliberately saturate your children’s environment. For example, marketers, like the aforementioned McNeal, combine TV exposure with such manipulative marketing tactics as associating smells with specific brands, exploiting infants’ ultra-sensitivity to smell. There is also the lovely tactic called the “Drool Factor,” which exploits the fact that infants tend to look down at where their drool has landed:
Ever notice how a 5- or 6-month-old sometimes watches to see where his drool lands? Discovering that was an ''aha!" moment for former Texas A&M marketing professor James McNeal. He reasoned that if the drool dripped to a diaper or a bib imprinted with an image of a character that's linked to a brand, and if the baby sees the logo repeatedly. . .
If the baby sees that logo repeatedly on them and on TV, marketers hope he or she will be "branded" for life. This is why diapers now all have pleasant smells and large, visible characters in the front. It is not to benefit the parents.
That is the mentality of the marketers behind TV commercials. If you let your children watch TV, these marketers get a chance to reach your children thirty-two times every hour.
Grab the headache relievers!
In 2001, the Nag Factor influenced an estimated $300 billion in sales. That amounts to over $4,000 per pestering child per year. Who knows how much more money was spent on the subsequent sales of headache relievers!
Protect your kids, because no one else will
Neither the government nor media control groups have been effective in controlling these marketers. However, protecting your kids is your job as a parent anyway. To protect your kids from these marketers and their tricks, reduce your children’s TV viewing time and skip through the commercials. Either teach your children how to fast forward through these manipulative commercials, or do it for them.
About 'The Awful Truth About Television' Series:
What happens when the average American spends 4 hours 32 minutes every day watching television? Trash Your TV's 'The Awful Truth About Television' Series explores the multifaceted problems with TV in eleven hard-hitting articles. Read the full series and you will never look at your television set the same way again.
Katherine Westphal is the founder of Trash Your TV! and the author of a revolutionary e-book system, The TV-FREE System. Get in control of your TV watching and create the life you want, whether it is to create the body, the mind, the business, the family, or the community of your dreams.