Today’s Kids are Confronted with Rampant Consumerism

by MyDadBlog on January 13, 2010

in Advice

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I’ve been both amused and disturbed when my 5 year old quotes me an infomercial outlining the benefits of the giant cupcake maker, the magic doorsweep or the snuggie.  On one hand, it’s funny what an easy sell he is and how enthusiastic he is about a piece of crap made in China that falls apart once it arrives, but at the same time, it demonstrates just how impressionable young kids are to even small doses of commercial television.

When I was growing up, I don’t recall infomercials like this during kids’ shows.  I also didn’t desire or possess much in the way of material things.  While my friends were all getting the Commodore 64 and wearing expensive parachute pants, my Dad bought me cinder blocks to build a fort in the back yard and I got “practical gifts” like flashlights and pocket knives.  It’s not to say I didn’t want what my friends had at the time, but I think I have a different appreciation for the receipt of gifts even today as an adult compared to friends and kids today.

This is of course, is partially a reflection on us as parents and how we’re raising our kids, but we’re pretty much mainstream, or actually, a bit on the frugal side compared to virtually everyone we know and associate with.

I tend to try and focus our spending on memorable life experiences over material things.  I’m sure the kids will look back more fondly (and so will we) on a trip to Disney rather than boasting that they had a full collection of games for the Nintendo DS when they were growing up.  However, with every holiday and birthday seemingly being met with gifts, gifts, gifts, it seems to diminish the thrill and appreciation of subsequent gifts.  I’m often overruled by my wife, and sometimes rightly so in retrospect.  But I wish on some levels that life could be simpler, easier, less wrought with chintzy crap from the dollar store.  It’s not just the money, it’s the mindset that entices kids to desire more and more “stuff” regardless of its complete lack of utility or enjoyment after the first 5 minutes.

What are your thoughts?

Am I an old fart who forgot what it was like to be a kid or is this generation being subjected to vastly different consumerism than ours?

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