The Holiday Season is a time for spiritual and family values and we need to make them a priority during this time of year. The merchants and the media are determined to make this season one of commercialism and materialism, and they are targeting our children. The message they are sending our children is that they need material possessions to be happy. This message is good for business but it is bad for our children.
The merchants are using a media blitz to promote a variety of products. The ads are everywhere and they are aimed at our children. They are enticing young people to desire toys, clothes, computers, telephones, and even different types of food. The problem is that young people do not need these products, and these things will not make our children happy. Very often, parents cannot even afford the things the merchants and the media have convinced their children they must have.
Too Much Media
Our children spend too much time with the media. Young people between the ages of 8 and 18 are consuming more media than ever before. As a matter of fact, they spend an astonishing 7 hours a day with the media. They even complete many of their daily tasks while exposed to the media. This gives merchants a virtually unlimited opportunity to promote their products to our young people. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a limit of two hours of screen media for children 2 and older, and none for younger children.
The advertising promotes materialistic values in children and produces stress in our families. Conflicts between parents and children are often directly related to the influence of advertising on our children.
The Effects of Advertising
The result of this advertising on our children is devastating. Modern research indicates that even psychologically healthy children are worse off when they become part of this materialistic culture of spending and receiving. Typically, countries with the highest levels of children-targeted marketing have the least happy children.
What Children Really Need
We have always known that children need quality time with their parents. We know it but we do not live it. Their sense of well being depends on healthy relationships, a sense of belonging, community involvement, and spiritual development. Material possessions are no substitute for what they really need.
Parents can set time limits on the amount of time their children spend with the media, and talk to their children about what they see in the media. Than they can agree to buy less stuff and spend more time together. Here are some practical suggestions for developing joyful holiday memories that will last a lifetime.
Visit The Relatives
Visit the relatives and encourage the children to have an interest in the grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins. Children can ask their grandparents where they are from and what it was like growing up. They can pursue common interests with their cousins.
Elders have skills and talents they can pass on to the younger generations. These activities range from sewing to woodworking.
No Televisions in Children’s Bedrooms
A television in a child’s bedroom means the child will spend more time with the advertisers and less time in meaningful activities. Television exposes children to messages that contradict a family’s values.
Discuss the Impact of Advertising
Ask your children how an advertisement makes them feel and explain how the ads promote products, lifestyles, and values. Explain why some of the products are not good for us.
Source: 1. Melinda Hemmeigarn, Overcome Holiday Media Madness, Natural Awakenings Magazine, November 2010, Cresco, PA.
4. www. CommercialFreeChildood.org