The Onset of Consumerism on our Youth through Massive Advertising
June 16, 2014
ENGL 101 – B17 LUO
Associates of Arts – Religion
Philippians 4:19 reads “but my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus”. Twenty different translations of this text and not once does it mention God supplying wants. Yet, advertisements teach the youth of America today that they should have all of their wants, not just needs. Advertising agencies, through massive and expensive efforts, have infused the idea of ultra-consumerism into the lives of American youth as evidenced by the priorities and ideals exemplified by children ...view middle of the document...
Entire channels have been devoted to creating a culture that worships consumerism. For example, Walt Disney products have been touted via television channels, websites, and radio stations. The television and songs on the channels promote cult followings of television personalities, including child idols, who offer clothing, games, sports equipment, etc. Disney even goes so far as to support youth leagues and college athletics such as the MEAC/SWAC Challenge each year. Keeping the Disney brand, amongst others, constantly in front of children has had a significant effect on children exhibiting aggressive consumer behavior. In 2001, a group of researchers conducted a study on a group of third- and fourth-grade students to determine the effects of reduced television, videotape, and video game use on the students’ requests for purchase of toys. The study was to identify and prove that the reduction of television viewership was a successful method of reducing the effect of advertising on child behavior. The study found that the students exposed to less television, videotape, and video game use requested their parents to purchase toys about 70% less than the control group of similar students. Advertisements work because of frequency and agencies, realizing this, have managed to infiltrate every aspect of the daily life of an American child.
The causal relationship between advertising promoting consumerism and American youth is evidenced by studies such as the Robinson, et al study in 2001. Robinson, et al, bluntly stated, “This excessive exposure is worrisome because many commercials promote consumeristic and unhealthful behavior.” As Figure 1 portrays, children, from a very young age, have an “I deserve this” and “I can have it all” attitude. Advertisements help shape what the focus and ideals of young Americans. The materialistic and self-centered values promoted by these advertisements lead to behavioral issues. Tim Kasser explains, “Individuals strongly concerned with materialistic values also enter experiences already focused on obtaining rewards and praise, rather than on enjoying the challenges and inherent pleasures of activities.” In other words, our children are unable to enjoy what God has provided them because they are constantly focusing on getting more possessions. The pursuit of more unnecessary possessions can lead to bad saving habits and detrimental consumerism.
Figure 1: Materialistic young girl
Figure 1: Materialistic young girl
Advertising companies and proponents of advertising directed at American youth argue that advertising to children does not instill consumerism in youth but rather the responsibility to prevent damaging consumerism lies with the parents. Others argue that it is not immoral for children to desire nice things and it gives them motivation to be wealthy enough to afford the consumer products. However, supporters of advertising targeting children ignore the reality that parents are not able to protect...