Consumerism in the United States is unlike that of most other developed countries in the world. Most countries, as they should, have placed regulating policies on advertising to children that keeps them protected from the corrupt, deceptive, and manipulative strategies that many marketers utilize to sell their products to children. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan made the shocking decision to veto a proposed bill that would have regulated the advertising on children’s television, despite the fact that the bill was overwhelmingly approved by both houses of Congress.
There are numerous unsettling consequences that have arised from this decision and the commercialization of childhood; the policy on consumerism must be refined before the consequences worsen.
Kids influence 700 billion dollars in spending every year. This is why the market often focuses on making their advertisements in a way that they believe would appeal the most to children. Many marketing agencies seek the help of psychologists who are experts on how to reach children.
Focus groups are another common strategy to gain information on what kids will react to the most in advertising. There are even “Youth Marketing Seminars” every year that are for the sole purpose of teaching people how to best advertise to children. Another surprising method is neuromarketing, a form of marketing that involves taking MRI’s of different kids’ brains to see which advertising methods excite kids’ brains more than others. Kids are being manipulated by marketers and they don’t even know it.
There are countless alarming aspects of consumerism in the United States today. Commercials aired on children’s television back in the 20th century used to just simply describe the desirable features of the product being advertised. Now days, symbolic advertising is much more common. This advertising technique often stresses social standards, which make kids feel like they won’t be cool or fit in with their peers if they don’t buy a certain product. Children’s products also used to be cheaper than products for adults, but in this day and age, advertisements often encourage kids to buy expensive or designer products.
Another concerning aspect of American consumerism is that young kids are now constantly exposed to things that they are not old enough or mature enough for. Young boys are being exposed more and more to violence in the video games they play, the toys they play with, and movies and shows they watch on television. Young girls are encouraged to spend money on things like makeup, hair products, and clothes to make them look more beautiful according to society’s beauty standards. Many of the dolls that young girls play with have highly sexuallized outfits and looks that encourage young girls to dress inappropriately for their age. Movies that would have been rated R in the 20th century would now be rated PG-13. The commercialization of childhood has led kids to have a mindset to act much older than they really are.
Perhaps the most damaging effect of consumerism in the United States is that mental and physical health issues in children are much more pressing today than they were in the 20th century. The more media a child is exposed to, the more likely they are to have mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, and/or physical health issues such as diabetes, obesity, body image disorders, etc. The life expectancy of 21st century children is going down, when it should be higher than ever.
Kids are exposed to hundreds of advertisements every single day, many of which are manipulating them without their knowledge. Consumerism in the United States is corrupt and needs to be refined before the consequences worsen.
Cite this Consumerism in the United States
Consumerism in the United States. (2021, May 24). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/consumerism-in-the-united-states/