From the toys Lucas lusts after, the food he’ll tolerate, the books he begs to be read over and over and even his toothpaste, it’s all character driven…
Just to name a few in our house:
- Sponge Bob Squarepants yogurt sticks
- Clifford the Big Red Dog juice boxes
- Monsters University Cheez-Its
- Star Wars Angry Birds water bottle, board game
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle clothing, dishes, Band-Aids
- Cars bedding, clothing, macaroni & cheese, soup, fruit chews, cutlery, dishes, napkins, tissues, Band-Aids, (clearly his favorite, but Ill take Lightening over Elmo any day!)
- Thomas the Train toothpaste
- Dora the Explorer hand soap
And I know I’m missing at least a dozen other items.
Every show Lucas enjoys watching, there’s a toy or other product available. I get it, it’s marketing, brand recognition, merchandising, cross promotion, product tie-ins, etc. but it’s too much.
I know I’m partly to blame because I buy the crap for him, but whenever possible, I do try to steer him towards the classics or something unknown, when it comes to books and everyday products and screen time (TV watching, iPhone or iPad play) is very limited in our house. 1-2 hours per day and sometimes none at all.
My own weakness aside, I blame television commercials. I read recently that advertisers spend more than $12 billion annually to gear commercials to children. The average American child watches more than 40,000 television commercials per year, and their ability to recall commercials is extremely strong. Studies show that children only need to see a commercial one time to develop a preference for the particular product, and that preference is strengthened with repeated exposure.
TV commercials also create something called the “nag factor,” when a child will cry, complain and nag his or her parent to buy a particular product seen on TV. The nagging continues until the
sucker parent purchases the product. According to research, 2- to 12-year-olds indirectly impacted another $320 billion in household purchases. Over the past five years, children have had a bigger influence on the purchase of durable goods due to the nag factor.
When I four, I knew about Holly Hobbie, Mickey Mouse, the Sesame Street crew and Raggedy Ann and Andy. There were only four channels on TV, my parents couldn’t afford to take me to the latest kid movie the minute it came out, I wore mostly hand-me-downs and there was zero screen time except for a few precious hours on Saturday mornings. There was too much fun to be had outside! It was a simpler time. How do we get back there?
Is your house full of TV driven products? How do you limit your kids screen time?