While driving my boys to school a few days ago, I asked them if they had any items on their Christmas wish list. Benjamin, my youngest son, told me that he wanted a Nintendo 3DS (something he’s wanted ever since his brother received one), and a Power Wheels vehicle. He described the drivable, battery-powered vehicle he was coveting and finished by looking at me earnestly and saying, “And Mom I looked at the commercial, and I felt like they wanted me to buy one!”
I couldn’t help but laugh at his description of how the advertising had affected him, but I was also a little amazed that it had made such an impact. After a few more questions, I learned that he’d seen the Power Wheels commercial four months ago when we were staying at a hotel. All these months later, he remembered it and wanted the product. If I’d ever wondered how much of an impact advertising could have on a child, Benjamin’s experience gave me an answer.
Of course, some of the messages a child sees each day are more damaging to their self-esteem and life outlook than others. And that’s why I’ve been watching my boys for the last week to learn what kind of “Dietainment” messages they see throughout the day. Unhealthy dieting messages disguised as entertainment aren’t just emotionally damaging; they can create unhealthy eating habits as well. And I had a feeling that my boys were being affected by these messages just as much as anyone else. [Read more…]