I’ll be the first to admit, I’m easily influenced by what I see on television. I see a commercial for fried chicken and I’ll immediately want Popeyes for dinner. However, I’m an adult and also possess the ability, for the most part, to make rational decisions about what I desire versus what I need. As my kids are getting older and now have more access to television than in past years, I’m beginning to see firsthand the negative effects television has on my kids, mainly advertising.
When my kids were younger, they’d tend to watch TV shows on channels like PBS, Sprout & Nick Jr. which had limited, if any commercials. However, now that my oldest has outgrown most of these shows, they’ve been tuning in to channels like The Hub & The Disney Channel, channels known to heavily market to kids. Since then, I’ve noticed that my kids ask for EVERYTHING they see on TV!
It all started last Christmas when they started asking for Dream Lites. While I didn’t like the idea of purchasing a product “As Seen on TV” (because usually I find them to be cheaply made and not nearly worth the $19.95 + shipping and handling), I made an exception in this case because: A) It was Christmas! B) Dream Lites could double as a nightlight, so to me it seemed to serve a practical purpose, and C) I found them on sale at CVS on Black Friday and couldn’t pass up the sweet deal! I thought, “Well, this should keep them quiet for a while.” Little did I know this was only the tip of the iceberg. Since then my kids have asked begged for the following: Stompeez, StretchKins, Flashlight Friends, Snackeez, Janimals, Teddy Tanks, Juggle Bubbles, Tummy Stuffers, & Hideaway Pets! Also, my oldest wants to get me a Tortilla Bowl for Christmas and asks for me to buy OxiClean every time we go to the store!
I decided it was time to put an end to the madness and attempt to explain to my kids that these things are junk and that they put these commercials on TV to try to get you to spend your money on things that aren’t made very well. They didn’t buy it. What did they do? They brought in reinforcement and asked Grandma. Now my kid has not one, not two, but THREE Hideaway Pets! Also, we recently visited a friend and my youngest son saw her daughter with a Snackeez, so he points and yells, “My mom says those things are JUNK!” My plan completely backfired.
I’ve considered caving and letting them use their own money to purchase these items as they wish, but then I just can’t bear to sit back and watch them blow their money like that, because I know they will. I’ve also considered banning TV altogether and switch to DVDs/Netflix only, but that doesn’t work either because they’ll just hear about them from friends. I don’t want my kids to be sheltered or deprive my kids of things, but I would LOVE for them to learn the importance of making wise choices when spending money sooner than later. Until then, I’ll continue to try to offer them suggestions of better ways of spending their money on something that’s useful; or better yet, teach them to SAVE it!