A study released this week by the Center for Research on Children, Adolescents and the Media at the University of Amsterdam examined the television ads on tweens.
The good news: "Children becoming more materialistic is often presented as a really big problem, but this study shows the problem might not be as big as it seems," said lead author Suzanna Opree
Researchers found that tweens who were happy before watching television did not become more materialistic after doing so. The already content tweens didn't feel the angst of wanting what they couldn't have after watching television shows and the accompanying advertisements.
The bad news: Unhappy kids are in worse shape. The study shows that tweens who were both unhappy at the study's start and who watched a lot of television did feel that angst and were more susceptible to the marketing. Frequently seeing television ads made the unhappy tweens more materialistic, the researchers discovered. If kids are already happy, they don't (literally) buy into the message that they need a product to make them happy.
The researchers offered these tips:
- Limit TV.
- When your tweens do watch television, watch with them.
- Teach them to think critically about the ads bombarding them when they watch television. Talk about what the advertiser is trying to do and how they are doing it.
- Use the DVR. Fast forward through the commercials, which cuts down on both exposure to ads and time in front of the tube. I know, it's not rocket science. Frankly, most people I know do this anyway or they are about to start because the political ads have left them little choice. My sympathies to those in swing states.
This study was done in the Netherlands. Do you think the findings also apply to American tweens?
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