The Rio + 20 Earth Summit is all about “Sustainable Development.” As we began to explore that topic, one of the workshops dealt with children and consumerism. Research has shown that 80% of consumer purchases are influenced by children, a direct result of the mass marketing to children.
One of the presenters, a parent herself, talked about the difficulty of constantly saying “no,” to requests for products just marketed on television. Her two sons have 3 video games, but their friends have 200 video games. She also talked of how difficult it is to compete with television for children’s attention.
We saw the video documentary Target Market: Kids which used a wonderful phrase to describe the effects of too much television – “TV softens the muscles of the imagination.” According to the film 80% of the food marketing is targeted to kids and it is mostly processed food that is being sold. Shown various fresh vegetables, the kids in the film were unable to identify them.
A final speaker from the Alliance for Children advised that adults need to target children’s hands, inviting them into sustainable living by planting a flower, or growing some vegetables. And target their hearts through storytelling, rather than using a rationale approach which is beyond their comprehension.