May 10th, 2013
Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton, opened a wonderful event at Sussex University last week to mark the conclusion of an extremely important research project.
The Children’s Consumer Culture project has produced new evidence to help us understand how consumer culture affects children’s wellbeing. Three wave longitudinal research confirms the findings from the Netherlands I talked about in an earlier blog. Unhappy children are most sensitive to the promises made by adverts for the latest cool stuff. But what the Sussex team have shown in the third wave of their research is that the children who have put their faith in “stuff” become even less happy.
The research also shows that less popular children believe that having the” right” consumer goods will buy them friends. But getting an iPod turns out not to buy them friends. In fact the investment backfires and they become less popular than ever.
As a society we have two options: build resilience in children so that they don’t need the crutch of faddish brands or curb the power of the brands.
I think we need to do both. Consumer culture offers empty promises that do not seem to foster wellbeing in children.
May 10th, 2013
Read this new report by Malcolm Clark and Charlie Powell of Sustain’s Children’s Food Campaign.
They raise important issues, not least of which is the fact that TV adverts for HSSF food and drink that would be banned on TV can appear on children’s websites.
This makes no sense. The regulations need to be unified.
According to ISBA TV advertising needs stricter rules because it is “passive”. If someone “actively” finds themselves confronted with an advert on the internet apparently it works differently. So a child who clicks on an advert on a cartoon website is somehow not affected by the advertising she sees. That must be a disappointment for companies who have redirected their adspend online.
April 26th, 2013
Just read Tim Lott’s article in the Guardian about how children’s parties have turned into a commercial guilt fest.
He suggests starting a Campaign for Real Childhood Celebration where
“ a) birthday parties are limited to six attendees, none of which is required to bring a present and none of which will receive a party bag, b) all celebrations other than Christmas or birthdays will not require the exchange of gifts and cards, c) all parties are limited to two hours maximum, and d) all children over six must be involved in preparing for said party and clearing up after it.”
April 18th, 2013
The Dutch research team whose work showed that advertising plays on the insecurities of the most vulnerable children has also concluded that advertising leads to materialism in 8-11 year olds. This echoes findings from Watching, Wanting and Wellbeing but is the first time this link has been made in a longitudinal study – helping to establish a cause and effect relationship rather than just a correlation.
April 12th, 2013
Following on from yesterday’s call from Leave our Kids Alone to ban advertising to primary school children, I thought I’d post something about the latest evidence on how advertising and materialism affects children’s wellbeing.
Longitudinal research from the Netherlands shows that it is children who are unhappy (for whatever reason) that become materialistic rather than materialism causing unhappiness- but that materialistic values only arise in children who are exposed to a lot of advertising. So it’s not that advertising makes children materialistic and unhappy – it is that insecure children latch onto advertising as a way to solve their problems.
Research with adults shows clearly that those who have developed materialistic attitudes are more prone to a range of issues from life dissatisfaction to depression. Thus it seems that the most vulnerable in society are seduced by advertising into developing materialistic values that are linked with adult unhappiness.