Friday, August 14, 2009

The commercialisation of childhood

Last night I watched a doco called Consuming Kids: The commercialization of childhood & this morning read a post from Makings of a Montessori Mum about her reaction to it (you can read her post here). I wrote such a long comment that blogger wouldn't accept it! So I've decide to post it below. For the next 13 days (only) the full doco can be watched for free here or there is a 5 minute trailer on youtube - you might have something to say about it too!


I got chills reading that quote. I watched the doco last night too & experienced many of the same emotions.

Watching things like that just solidify your resolve to do it differently. To say a blessing that your own kids aren't being "sold" to 24/7 because we've made a *commitment* to keeping them away from it.

I haven't had a chance to watch the extra clip you found - but I totally will!

It is amazing how truly *insidious* advertising is - Lovely *thinks* that he loves Batman & the only thing I can think of it that he's seen other children wearing Batman costumes at the park or other 'inconspicuous' advertising. Like yesterday, we passed the bags of a group of older kids & one of them had a 'Transformers' bag & he had to walk back past it & ooooed & ahhhed about the "Batman" on it. Basically anything black & kinda sinister... Yes, and aggressive must be "Batman". Wasn't that HORRIFIC the part where they showed how girls are sold to with images & messages about being valued by their looks and how popular they are & boys are sold to with images of aggression & violence. It is SICK!

Sometimes it drives me crazy that my boys are constantly collecting sticks & trying to use them as swords or all of those things that little boys seem to be instinctively drawn to - but last night when they talked about children not being able to construct things of their own imagination, that a stick can no longer become anything else, it made me so thankful for the creative energy pulsating through my sweet boys bones.

I *love* that by choosing to homeschool or by choosing an 'alternative' school (like a Steiner school in our case) we are giving our children the gift of their true un-commercialised selves. Watching the program reminded me that this was one of the cornerstones of our decision to send Hug to the school we chose, despite any hesitations we might have had with Steiner versus our interest in Montessori, because I knew that it was the only way (outside of homeschooling) that we could protect him for mass-media-itis.

At Hug's school the children don't wear a uniform and the rule is no black (for children in the kindergarten & primary school) or any images/writing on clothes and bags etc. Plus, we had to show our commitment to no t.v. or computer time when we were interviewed for a place at the school. Although the interview process was *very* daunting at the time, having come out the other side, I am thrilled to know that all of the other parent's in the school are on the same page.

I was involved in a discussion at the MWEI workshop I did about Maria Montessori & how she apparently had typewriters in some classrooms & how because of her forward & practical thinking she would have probably embraced technology & seen the importance of children learning the 'Practical Life' lessons that they would need in their technological future. Hmmmm, last night I thought that Maria Montessori would have a LOT to say about the commercialisation of children. If they can no longer concentrate outside of a video game. If they no longer appreciate the beauty of the natural world. If they can't use their imaginations. If they can't think for themselves... they will *never* become their true selves. And THAT is what Maria Montessori really wanted. To let our children unfold, unhindered, into their true selves, their true essence, in the hope that they would therefore have within them the spirit to bring about a more peaceful world. That so isn't going to happen if we let advertisers sink their teeth into them at birth.

Having said that we don't have a complete ban on t.v. in our house but it's restricted to Playschool (wish I had some of your retro ones!) or the british show 'Grand Designs' (gotta add a little culture for Hug!) but it's only on once a week or fortnight & often less than that. While it's true that it's is all about moderation it's also all about looking after the best interest of the child & creating a "prepared environment" for them (ie. our homes) where they are free to be themselves.

We don't give brands a name in our house either - so I loved reading that you talk to Little Bird about that "girl with brown hair" (not 'Dora). Btw, who (WHO?!!!) is letting their children be scanned with an MRi machine in the name of advertising research?! That is beyond outrageous...

I could go on forever!

Hope you & LB are having a happy *advertising-free* day :)

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Comments :


  1. I really need to watch this documentary!

    It gets harder as the children get older. We had a time when my daughter had a hard time at school because she had no idea who Hannah Montana was. I had a quick watch and decided we were sticking with that decisicion but she is nine now and more able to see what we mean when we talk about the sub-concious messages that are being put across.
    We have a no tv/computer/wii rule during the week rule and they are booked at the weekend - no casual watching/playing.
    The upsode of all this is we don't have any arguments about whether homework is done before or after a tv show because there is no tv available!
    The other lovely thing is that now they are older (9, 7 and 4 and 3/4) they are making concerts and shows for us which are actually written and rehearsed.
    The other thing that happens is we play games together in the evenings and there is no comptetition from an electric box!

    I am going to try and watch this doco with the older 2. They already have a goo understanding of what the advertisements are trying to do but I think they'll understand the more subtle messages too. Then I just have to help them feel comfortable with their peers who are not so enlightened.......

  2. Hi Annicles,
    Thanks for your comment :)

    What a good idea it would be too watch the doco with your older children & then be able to start a dialogue about it after. Watching the blank drop-jaw faces of the kids in the doco who are watching t.v. would scare them I'm sure - It's so creepy!

    I just took a quick peek over at your blog & you've got so much going on! I didn't realise that I wasn't subscribed to your rss feed so now I am :)

  3. Just another reason that any TV Alex watches has been pre-recoded and we fast forward through all commercials. Even now if something does happy to be on, she calls and asks if we can fast forward all the "junk" TV stuff. That's my girl :)

  4. OMgoodness.... there is nothing that has ever made me so happy to not have tv. Wow. Luckily I already have a stand on this. And so do most of my friends. Wow. I feel so lucky!


  5. Hey amazing Rainbow Mama! Yeah - I'm right with you on all of this. And yes - who lets their kids be scanned!!!????? Ergh.

    The philosophy at Hug's school sounds great re clothing etc. My step-sister sends her 4 gorgeous kids to Steiner and i remember her saying this now. So good to hear. So simple!!!!

    And yes we had a fabulous creative and adventurous day - digging for worms and millipedes, watering everything in sight and painting, painting and more painting! Who has time for brands and lots of tv when you have kids anyway??? Life is too full!!!



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