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1 Children as Consumers Adults ’ concerns toward children ’ s vulnerability –Capitalist media colonizing children ’ s consciousness –Imposing false ideologies.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Children as Consumers Adults ’ concerns toward children ’ s vulnerability –Capitalist media colonizing children ’ s consciousness –Imposing false ideologies."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Children as Consumers Adults ’ concerns toward children ’ s vulnerability –Capitalist media colonizing children ’ s consciousness –Imposing false ideologies –Inculcating materialistic values –Therefore, calling for protection, censorship, regulation Relationship between Children and Economy –Wide beliefs about essential nature of childhood (Jordanova) Children as in sacred state of life Naturally incompatible with the world of commodities –Economy: Transition from status of child to status of adult

2 2 Rise of Child Consumer Human society in the past 50 years –Consumer activity increased (scope and scale) –Range of consumer goods increased –Shopping becoming popular –Availability of opportunities grown Intensive marketing focus on children –Reduced family size –Increased divorce and single-parents –Increased disposable household income –Children with greater purchasing decision –Quantity of media programs for children (not necessarily in diversity or quality); Now, the Internet

3 3 Advertisement, Entertainment and Education Blurred difference between entertainment and education Educational activities with advertising messages Blurred boundaries between content and advertisement Meanwhile, widening gap between information-rich and information poor

4 4 Market and Children Some critics: –The market as inherently inimical to the true interests and needs of children –Commercial media as an incitement to consumerism and an exploration of children ’ s vulnerability Other critics ” –Market as an effective means of meeting children ’ s need –“ What ’ s good for business is good for kids. ”

5 5 Critiques of Advertising Effects of advertising –Assumptions of inculcating consumerism and materialistic values –Accused of creating ‘ false needs ’ –False ‘ consumption ideal ’ to overcome dissatisfaction and sense of powerlessness in daily life (irrational fantasies) Critiques –False needs vs. True needs (Commercial vs. Uncontaminated) –Are children really ‘ incompetent ’ and ‘ irrational ’, and thus vulnerable to persuasion?

6 6 Evidence from Research- Behaviorist Paradigm Much evidence is weak or inconclusive Younger children generally unable to remember and understand advertisements Advertising is less significant as source of information than other sources such as peers and parents, or visits to the shops Making limited contribution to children ’ s beliefs about the quality of products (eg., nutrition and food) Contribution to broader ideologies and values — seem not sustained by available research Difficulty in isolating a single factor from potential influences

7 7 Evidence from Research- Constructivist Paradigm On cognitive processing rather than on effects Arguing that attention to advertising is highly selective and interpretations diverse At what age to become aware of difference between programs and advertisements? –Various estimates, but early –7-8 well aware of advertisers ’ motivation –Sometimes cynical Generally, children are discriminating viewers Not necessarily trust advertising Attempt to compare with real-life experience

8 8 Wise Consumers? (Author ’ s research) Showing skepticism (age 8-12) Clearly aware of the persuasive functions Claiming to know about the production process and camera tricks Asserting fakeness of before-and-after Children seem to be equipped with ‘ cognitive defenses ’ Will they automatically use the ‘ defenses ’ ? Critical discourse in research interviews; but still admit being influenced by advertising

9 9 Wise Consumers? Some children are cynical, but some are ‘ fans ’ of advertisements (on aesthetic level, independent of product) Is the issues really about the opposition between ‘ rational ’ and ‘ emotional ’ responses? Limitations in isolating advertising from broad consumer culture

10 10 Animating Consumers Merchandising (toys, T-shirt, theme parks … ) and trans-media intertextuality (drama, film, games … ) ‘ Cartoon as program-length commercial ’ Even public service TV tied in to generate revenue (e.g., Thomas the Tank Engine, Teletubbies) Binary opposition between ‘ public ’ and ‘ commercial ’ necessary? Children more vulnerable than adults? Highly questionable!

11 11 Culture, Commerce, and Childhood Assertions Similar to the ‘ Death of Childhood ’ –Culture Pure, Eden-like space, source of positive moral and aesthetic values –Commerce Culture invaded and corrupted by commerce –Electronic Media Undermining traditional (healthier) preoccupation of street play, peer conversation Two questions –Cultural value: ‘ Golden Age ’ vs. Contemporary television –The audience: Limited evidence about children (passive audience)

12 12 Children and Consumer Culture Consumer Culture: –Modern capitalism: Investing symbolic values in material objects –Construction of social identity: Acquisition and use of material goods Changing Approach (toward youth) –Now, emphasis on young people ’ s autonomy and freedom --- Consumer creating their own identity, diversely and innovatively

13 13 Toward New Policies Seeking to protect children from marketplace vs. Preparing children: Education –Understanding relationship with consumer culture and economic principles Legal recognition of children ’ s right as consumers –Rights to accurate information, ‘ consumer empowerment ’ Examination of children ’ s cultural needs –Dialogue with children, rather than simply left to adults

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