When our first child was born, we were very anti-television. He did not watch television (except the occasional sporting event) until after he turned one. After his birthday, television use is still very limited. Even with this limited amount of television, we have noticed that he is very influenced by commercials. It seems almost crazy to me that he can spot a Pillow Pet at a far off distance and recognize Montel Williams and his promise of cash tomorrow to pay off bills by voice.
If kids need only a small amount of television to be influenced by it, then I worry about how advertising is affecting our children. They are bombarded not just by the television, but by other forms of media as well. Radio, billboards, pop ups on the computer and even restaurant signs are simple ways that our kids are being told what they should like even when we might not suspect it.
It is important as a parent to use these as teachable moments. We have to of course be aware of what our children are exposed to, but when we cannot be in control, this is the time to teach our kids for their future. It is also important because especially young children and even teens can be influenced by the propaganda that the media brings in our lives as the the latest trends and styles. These may not always be healthy choices for an appropriate lifestyle. I think that these provide opportunities to start conversations about what is important and necessary rather then giving into each whim or desire.