Constructing Children as Consumers

Authored by: David Buckingham

The Routledge International Handbook of Children, Adolescents and Media

Print publication date:  May  2013
Online publication date:  July  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415783682
eBook ISBN: 9780203366981
Adobe ISBN: 9781134060559

10.4324/9780203366981.ch6

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Abstract

Over the past few decades, children have become increasingly important both as a market in their own right and as a means to reach adult markets. Commercial companies are targeting children more directly and at an ever-younger age; and they are using a much wider range of techniques that go well beyond conventional advertising. Marketers often claim that children are becoming ‘empowered’ in this new commercial environment: the market is seen to be responding to needs and desires on the part of children that have hitherto been largely ignored or marginalized, not least because of the social dominance of adults. However, critics have expressed growing concern about the apparent ‘commercialization’ of childhood. Popular publications, press reports and campaigns have addressed what are seen to be the damaging effects of commercial influences on children’s physical and mental health. Far from being ‘empowered’, children are typically seen here as victims of a powerful, highly manipulative form of consumer culture that is almost impossible for them to escape or resist.

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