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Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhoodby Susan E Linn
Synopses & Reviews
With the intensity of the California gold rush, corporations are racing to stake their claim on the consumer group formerly known as children. What was once the purview of a handful of companies has escalated into a gargantuan enterprise estimated at over $15 billion annually. While parents struggle to set limits at home, marketing executives work day and night to undermine their efforts with irresistible messages.
In Consuming Kids, psychologist Susan Linn takes a comprehensive and unsparing look at the demographic advertisers call the kid market,” taking readers on a compelling and disconcerting journey through modern childhood as envisioned by commercial interests. Children are now the focus of a marketing maelstrom, targets for everything from minivans to M&M counting books. All aspects of childrens lives their health, education, creativity, and values are at risk of being compromised by their status in the marketplace.
Interweaving real-life stories of marketing to children, child development theory, the latest research, and what marketing experts themselves say about their work, Linn reveals the magnitude of this problem and shows what can be done about it. With a foreword written by research psychologist and author Penelope Leach, Consuming Kids is a call to action for parents, educators, legislators and anyone who cares about the health and well-being of children.
"Like Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation, Linn is able to write about a subject people care about and avoid the shrillness that can make such books a chore to read. A psychologist and children's advocate, Linn is openly critical of the corporate bottom line and focuses on what will benefit children and families. Her exhaustively researched picture is of a $15 billion industry in near-total denial about the effects it has. Executives traffic in transparently self-serving rhetoric, extolling the educational value of such seemingly bland fare as Teletubbies or claiming to be developing toddlers' incipient need for control. The concept of 'prenatal marketing' need not be exhaustively described to send a shiver down the spine of any mother-to-be. Linn points out that successful marketing is often in direct opposition to what's good for society. Sex, violence and sugar-packed snacks obviously hold great appeal for youngsters, and there exists, he says, no countervailing social force to effectively check their influence. Linn demonstrates how marketers research methods to make children more effective naggers — thus undermining parental authority — and TV programming executives spike the chilling metric known as 'jolts per minute.' Linn works hard not only to put together a truly devastating case against the marketers, but also to couch it in the most reasonable terms possible; indeed, the entire book is really an appeal to common sense: that we as a society take better care of our children. Savvy enough to avoid sounding 'like someone's old maiden aunt,' Linn presents a socially conscious account that deserves wide exposure. Agent, Andrew Stuart. (May 6)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
In "Consuming Kids," psychologist Linn takes a comprehensive and unsparing look at the demographic advertisers call "the kid market," taking readers on a compelling and disconcerting journey through modern childhood as envisioned by commercial interests.
A critique of marketing to children.
About the Author
Susan Linn is a psychologist at Judge Baker Childrens Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston. An award-winning ventriloquist internationally recognized for her pioneering work using puppet therapy with children, she was mentored by the late Fred Rogers.
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