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“Child advertising: Cradle to Grave consumerism.”

“Child advertising: Cradle to Grave consumerism.”

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An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Charlotte Knee. Originally submitted for B.A Psychology at NUI Maynooth, with lecturer Brain Roche in the category of Psychology
An essay for the 2012 Undergraduate Awards Competition by Charlotte Knee. Originally submitted for B.A Psychology at NUI Maynooth, with lecturer Brain Roche in the category of Psychology

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Published by: Undergraduate Awards on Aug 30, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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 Department of PsychologyNational University of Ireland, MaynoothEssay PS301
“Child advertising:
Cradle to Grave
 Submitted by: Charlotte. E. KneeSupervisor: Andy CochraneDate: 05/04/2012
Word count: 2200.
Of all the
“Big ideas”
that have changed how we live in the world only one hasachieved total supremacy. Its overwhelming and compulsive allure rob its followersof reason and good sense (Van Boven, 2005). It has created unthinkableunsustainability and inequalities among countries, which now pose a stronger threat tohuman survival than any other phenomena previous (Assadourian et. al, 2010). It isnow more powerful than any religion, reaching into every corner of the westernworld; this monstrosity of an idea is
. It holds the mentality that weshould all actively be trying to consume more everyday and every year, with the morewe consume leading to better lives and greater happiness. However as we witness therise in social problems such as child obesity, crime and psychological disorders in thewestern world we must consider if there is a link, and as numerous studies have nowshown the relationship is substantial (Wilkinson and Pickett, 2009).
A new “Big Idea”
involving a cultural shift must take place converting peopleto sustainability and reduction of consumption before it is too late for us, and moreimportantly the environment (
Skinner, 1976
). Reports now show we are dangerouslyclose to the 2 degree Celsius increase in temperature that will push us over the edge of climate re-stabilization (Meinshausen et al, 2009). Global efforts to reduce carbonemissions and promote sustainability such as the Kyoto protocol are in place howeverthe central problem of consumerism is not being addressed. The next generation willgrow up in a world where all they know is how to buy. We are steadily loosing thebasic skills that have assured human survival to this day. All our children are learningis how to get the best bargains at Tesco and have life aspirations centered on moneyand possessions. If consumerism is to be reduced we must promote other substitutesamong the youth and at the very least reduce the current impact of consumerism ontheir development.
 Children as targetsFrom a consumerist point of view children are the perfect customers, they have noprevious appraisal of other products, they are impulsive and will be loyal for life if hooked young. They are the most susceptible to advertising and promotion and mostinterested in new products. Children now account directly for an estimated $36 billionin sales annually in the USA, with their indirect purchasing power accompanied by
the so called “nag
factor” (Zelizer, 2002) reaching over $290 b
illion of economicspending (McNeal, 1992). This is not a coincidence, but a direct result of intenseadvertising and co existing problems of a consumer society. For example with over70% of mothers now working more and more, consumer tasks are falling to thechildren. It is now estimated that by age 10, the average child makes over five trips aweek to a shop or shopping center (McNeal 1992). And with over $1 billion beingspent every year on child advertising and an additional $10 billion on promotion inthe USA alone, these children have more purchasing power than ever.Over the last decade there has been a dramatic shift in the age of children
which marketers target resulting in the creation of the “Tweens”. From the age of 9 to
14 years children are now considered to be midway between childhood andadolescence and unlike other generations acquisition and accumulation of goods hasbecome a preoccupying behavior (Goldberg, 2003). At this age children are stilldeveloping in all aspects cognitively, physically, emotionally, socially mostimportantly they are gaining values and worldviews. With the new preoccupation of consumerism at this young age children are becoming concerned with material statusand money, holding them as central values. Before the age of 8 children do not possesthe necessary level of cognitive functioning to understand the persuasive aim of 

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