Sunday, November 23, 2008

Holidays, Commercialism, and My retreat

It is that time of the year again-- the time when everything goes on sale and temptation reigns supreme. You thought I was going to say something else, right?

Really, I could write this post any time of the year, because I have really grown tired of the way children are marketed to in this country. Adults too, for that matter, but I have grown more aware of it due to The Boy. And while it is rather key to this post, I am going to ignore the fact that Christmas decorations were out before Halloween had come and gone. Is that REALLY necessary? Argh. Back on topic.

This time of the year is especially hard when you have a young child who is growing more aware of commercialized products-- from toys to videos, The Boy knows more of the characters. I have limited his exposure at home, choosing Haba and Plan Toys (primarily), but it is not as easy to limit his exposure elsewhere.

When a non-profit organization came in to The Boy's school to test his development and hearing, they used Elmo and other Sesame Street characters. When out shopping, he sees other products that he is drawn to. At other people's homes, he is exposed to things I might not have at our house.

Commercialism is everywhere, but I can do things to limit The Boy's exposure. Below are a few of the things we do.

  • Buy toys that encourage creativity and lack the commercial flair (i.e. two equal products, one has a character, one doesn't-- we go with the one without).
  • Preview programs he will watch at home. We allow one show at this time-- Backyardigans-- in part due to their limited product line (and it's the show I can stand to watch too!).
  • Other than sporting events, we don't watch live TV.
  • Do not purchase character books (i.e. Sesame Street, Thomas the Train, Dora, etc). Those that are gifts, we do keep and read, but we don't buy those books.
  • Encourage family members and friends to consider non-character gifts.
  • Give others non-character/non-commercial gifts.
  • Avoid purchasing clothing with commercialized themes (again, characters, etc).

For more information, visit a favorite site of mine-- Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.

A great shopping site for non-traditional (i.e. not found at Target or Toys-R-Us) toys-- Oompa Toys. I keep a running wish list for The Boy on their website to help make toy buying easy for my parents.

Do you limit the commercial items in your home? If so, what are some of the things you do and how do you do it?


McCool said...

Great post - so much I had not considered. With Brennan only being 15 months, he has not shown much interest in anything commercialized, but I know that day is coming!

Rebecca said...

We have attempted to limit commercialism, too. We've selected a few that we have: Thomas the Tank and Little Einsteins. Our daughter is starting to really, really, really like Disney princesses. We don't have them here, so I'm not sure where she's learned about them, and she gravitates to them in stores. Sigh. In my opinion, they are the worst of the worst. I mean, really - Ariel the mermaid, she disobeys her father and gets married to a prince at age 16!!! The whole premise of the movie is that she sells her soul to the devil and must be kissed by a prince to win her soul back. Apparently a kiss equals love. Hmm, I may have to explain to her someday that physical affection from boys doesn't usually equate love...

Sorry for the rant. :)

Maria said...

Rant away Rebecca. I'm there with you!

Rebecca said...

Obviously your post prompted my post about Disney princesses. It makes me sad, really. Girls love them. I just wish that they would keep the princess piece, since girls love that, but also add some positive, strong, female qualities to them. And make them real. I dread the day that Bel figures out that none of the princesses wear glasses or have short hair. You know, I should check out some of the more current Disney movies where the princesses are different races. I wonder if they made them stronger women who didn't need a prince to rescue them. Do you know?

Maria said...

I don't really know. Sorry. :( We've been avoiding most Disney movies, because I'm not sure I even want to go down that road at all at this point. The whole commercialism thing really is a pain in the bum. I mean, seriously-- kids are bombarded with marketing everywhere they turn, and it only fosters a society where everyone wants more and more and more and more becomes an entitlement instead of a reward.

Rachel said...

Excellent post.

You hit the nail on the head when you noted that kids feel they're entitled to everything, and our commercialized culture definitely fuels that. That notion of entitlement is why public education is so hard. Kids don't want to work for the A; they feel it's owed to them.

Anonymous said...

Back in the good old days Disney was Mary Poppins and the gang; my kids watched some Disney but loved Thomas the Tank Engine and Milo and the time the younger one came around it was Power Rangers...not sure if it has ruined them or not..


Anonymous said...

Just an observation on Rachels comment; I'm not sure that you can entirely blame entitlement on commercialism; having lived through two kids through the 12th grade, it's also ALOT of parents who don't take the time or the effort to say NO and follow through. It's much easier to let kids get away with things.


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