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Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood (2008)

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Consuming Kids throws desperately needed light on the practices of a relentless multi-billion dollar marketing machine that now sells kids and their parents everything from junk food and ... See full summary »

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Credited cast:
Daniel Acuff ...
Enola Aird ...
Michael Brody ...
Himself (archive footage)
Nancy Carlsson-Paige ...
Peggy Charren ...
Herself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Herself (archive footage)
Fred Furth ...
Himself (archive footage)
Himself (archive footage)
Josh Golin ...
Sean Hannity ...
Himself (archive footage)
Lucy Hughes ...
Himself (archive footage)
Allen Kanner ...


Consuming Kids throws desperately needed light on the practices of a relentless multi-billion dollar marketing machine that now sells kids and their parents everything from junk food and violent video games to bogus educational products and the family car. Drawing on the insights of health care professionals, children's advocates, and industry insiders, the film focuses on the explosive growth of child marketing in the wake of deregulation, showing how youth marketers have used the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform American children into one of the most powerful and profitable consumer demographics in the world. Consuming Kids pushes back against the wholesale commercialization of childhood, raising urgent questions about the ethics of children's marketing and its impact on the health and well-being of kids. Written by The Media Education Foundation

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Release Date:

29 October 2008 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


[first lines]
Himself (McNeal, James U.): [pioneering youth marketer] The consumer embryo begins to develop during the first year of existence. Children begin their consumer journey in infancy. And they certainly deserve consideration as consumers at that time.
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Consuming Kids is a documentary intended to make the public aware of the influence media, marketing and advertising has on children
17 March 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Consuming Kids is a documentary intended to make the public aware of the influence media, marketing, and advertising has on children. The amount of technology used on a daily basis is way higher than it ever has, meaning that advertisement, and marketing has sky rocketed. Sadly, majority of the advertising is directed towards children. This all has a negative outcome, and contributes to the health of the minors in the United States today. Marketers look at children almost as if they're guinea pigs. Using psychological aspects, marketers have cracked the code to making money. They do studies on their every move, they see what food they like, and run experiments such as a "blink test" to see how many times a child blinks while watching a certain advertisement. It's disgusting to see that children aren't even looked at as children anymore. They are looked at as objects that have potential to put money into the marketer's wallets. Marketers look at this aspect as it "just being their job". But it is more than that. The marketers are not blind to the health aspect of the issue, but they don't really seem to care. But why are children such an important factor? Why don't marketers direct most advertisements towards parents, the ones who have money? The answer is because as soon as the child is born, they're a consumer. Starting advertisements while children are young creates "cradle to grave brand loyalty". This aspect is not only sickening, but it is clear that marketers don't even take children's health into consideration. Advertising for unhealthy choices have led to children developing type two diabetes, which are caused by obesity. Not only are all these factors physically unhealthy for a child's body, but also harmful to a child's mind. Marketers do not advertise to "kids" they advertise to "boys" and "girls" individually. Internal messages directed towards boys consist of; violence, adult messages, power, fighting to solve differences, and being tough. Mentally, boys feel the need to be this way and have behavioral problems. If mental problems can be avoided, it is revolting to know that marketers continue to advertise such values. Girls are advertised to be skinny, pretty, look a certain way and act a certain way. A small child should not have to live up to societies expectations, but rather live how their heart desires. Not only are products being marketed, but values are too. This modern day in age, everything is shifting for children. What is appropriate now, was not appropriate just a few centuries ago. Girls are comfortable wearing clothes that show a lot of skin, and boys are fine with acting much older than they really are. Kids need to be kids and not have the desire to grow up so quickly. Instead of a child's role model being a doctor, dentist, fire fighter or a police man, this day in age a child's idol has changed to a teen idol. Mentally, and physically, all of these aspects are very unhealthy. One may wonder why parents don't put an end to this and create a healthier environment for their children. The reason being for this is because the issue is inevitable. No matter what, marketers are going to continue advertising products and children are going to keep seeing them. Children are not with their parents twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Products are advertised at school, on the bus, and at friend's birthday parties. This issue is everywhere. Of course parents have to take some of the blame, but certainly not all of it. Looking at the financial aspect, it is clear that kids themselves are spending a lot more money than they used to. The media targets children due to spending habits. Studies have shown that child spending has increased a whole 35% each year. In 1984, the spending rate for one year for children was 4.2 billion dollars. In 2008, this number increased to 40 billion dollars for one year of spending. Whether it may be kids spending their birthday money, Christmas money, allowance or even money they themselves make, there's no doubt that spending has become an issue. The amount of spending that occurs for children is more than a total of 40 billion dollars each year, and they influence 700 billion in spending every year. The nag factor is very common this day in age, causing parents to spend more money. It is harder to say no to a child than it seems. If all of the kids have brand name clothes, lunch boxes with characters on them, or characterized bed sheets, how can a parent say no to their child every single time? Such vast money spending at a young age is creating an issue for the future. If children learn to spend all of their money on materialistic things when they're young, there is a way higher chance for them to have money issues when they are older. Society is creating an unhealthy picture; life is about buying and getting, not about being thankful for the things you have. It is clear that the amount of advertising is a huge issue. People tried to have the government step in to pass a ban for marketers to advertise to young children. This was called the FTC improvement act but didn't go very far because it was taking away the rights of marketers. But looking at the issue deeper, what about the rights of the children? What about the right to actually be a child and not have to live up to the horrible expectations society has to offer? Intimacy and bonding is being sacrificed for child development. The health of the children is also being sacrificed to. This is an issue of health, and an issue of rights.

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