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Consumerism Creates Conflicts

Recently I saw a story about a family who made a pact not to buy anything new for one year, excluding food and other essentials. They agreed not to even buy food until they had used up the supplies that they already had on hand but seemed to bypass on a regular basis (that sounds familiar).

This family just got tired of feeling pushed around by the ongoing demand to keep buying new stuff whether they needed it or not.

One of the reasons for the emphasis on buying is that we live in a consumer-driven economy. The more we buy, the more the economy builds.

It is the free enterprise system that we all know and love but maybe it is time to slow things down. Consumerism is creating conflicts, especially for families.

The real challenge in an over-consuming society is how it has trickled down to the kids. Children don't have the 'want' off-switch that grown ups are expected to have and use. Kids want as much candy as they can stockpile and they definitely want all the toys that come to their attention.

Now we come to the main antagonist in the story: the advertising industry.

Consuming and advertising go together like Barbie and Ken. How do kids find out about all the new toys, snacks, clothes, vacations, and personal electronics that are available to the right buyer?

Well, TV commercials used to be the biggest factor and they are still a player, but parents can multiply that by a thousand these days.

Advertising is everywhere! Every site on the Internet has advertising, videos have product placement, products have advertising attached to them. The amount of advertising is unprecedented and unrestrained and a lot of it is directed at children and youth.

There is definitely more than one issue with this kind of unrelenting advertising. Aside from the constant seduction to purchase what can only be described as mounds of junk with a fleeting attraction, children are being enticed to become part of a world that is beyond their maturity level. Little girls are receiving messages about how to improve their looks, how to dress to be sexy, how to stay slim, how to add glimmer to their hair.

Daily I see children as young as eight with dyed streaks in their hair and makeup on their faces. Young children are dressing in provocative clothing with adult slogans emblazoned across their child size chests.

Boys are not left out of the targeted demographic. They receive messages about getting drunk, driving a fast car, and the benefits of aggressive machismo.

Trying to keep your children from experiencing the bombardment of advertising is next to impossible.

What can you do to protect your children? Teach them values that will give them control over their own off-switch.

Enough is enough! Talk to your family members about limiting what you buy in the next month and then work your way into a new lifestyle.

Deborah Joyce is the Executive Director of District 69 Family Resource Association serving children, youth and families in Oceanside. Contact her at 250-752-6766.