Catch Sherri on WHYY’s NewsWorks tonight @ 6pm when she’ll be talking with host, Dave Heller about the impact of commercial marketing on kids during this holiday season.
Parents looking for a few tips to help handle the massive commercials and subsequent “nag factor” from their kids could try some of the suggestions below:
CO-VIEW: Consider TV viewing (or any screen time) a “CO” experience. Watch with your kids. Play a game with them. Download an app together. Co-play. Then, as you’re watching, talk about what you see with your kids. Talk about what you do not see too. Seeing lots of commercials for expensive toys? What about families that can’t afford such gifts? Lots of commercials linking current movies with toys in kids fast-food meals? Talk with your kids about why the movie people might do that. Watch and talk…watch and talk.
GIVING: Add “giving” to conversations so holiday time isn’t just about “getting”. Set aside an amount to GIVE to a CAUSE your family cares about– even if it’s just a few dollars. Ask your child to give a small portion of their allowance. Involve your kids in the gift-giving, not just the give-getting. Sure, it’s easier to shop and buy presents without your kids in tow, but involving your kids in brainstorming gift ideas and then finding the perfect gift is a great way to help them understand the joy of holiday giving. (And that also means we adults have to talk about gift-buying or gift-making as an enjoyable experience..not a dreadful annoyance.)
CONSIDER OTHERS: Help kids understand the difference between “having” and “not having”– as not everyone “has” during the holidays. Not everyone has gifts to get or give, not everyone has food, not everyone has a warm home, not everyone comes from a loving household. Holidays are a perfect time to take stock in what you have, express appreciation, and open your heart to others in need.
BUDGETING: Give your kids a BUDGET for holiday giving — and/or getting. Help them learn the value of money throughout the year.
CASH: Shop with cash. Give your kids small amounts of money to control so they can learn how their gift ideas connect to actual money in their pocket.
FOCUS ON FREE: Holidays are, at their heart, about conveying that we care about others. We can do that by writing a card, using “found” materials to make something, bake something, draw a photo, etc. Even if you’re fortunate enough to have money to spend on others for the holidays, try to include a handmade or found item with your gift that comes just from your creativity.
Most of these ideas can be implemented throughout the year to help kids understand the impact of the commercials they see when they watch TV or go online. Let’s help our kids develop the critical thinking skills to be media literate in our media-rich world.