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.

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