My girlies don’t yet watch TV, and at least part of my hesitation is that they would be exposed to advertising.
It may sound a little funny, given my years spent in the marketing field, but the idea of marketing and advertising being directed towards my children just gives me the willies.
I’ve read that until the age of six or seven, most children aren’t able to discern between the presentation of facts and advertising. That, against the likes of Disney and McDonald’s, who begin marketing to babies virtually in utero? No, thanks.
I do look at magazines with the girls, and I’ve been pointing out the advertisements to them since they were about two years old. “This company wants to sell us shampoo. They are saying that using it will make our hair look thick and shiny, but we don't know if that would really happen. We like the shampoo that we use, so we don’t need to try this.”
I flippantly commented on a milk ad one time, “Now here’s an advertisement that we agree with. Milk is very good for our bodies.”
The girls always make me laugh when they see an ad for milk. “Mommy! We agree with this advertisement! Milk is good!”
We don’t do TV, and we don’t do fast food. Flippantly, once again, in the middle of 1,001 questions one day, I told the girls of a fast food restaurant in Walmart, “They put chemicals in their food.” The girls latched onto that [of course], and they love to point out restaurants as we drive through town. “Mommy! That restaurant puts chemicals in their food!”
I’ve further explained to the girls that some people eat fast food. I told them that Mommy and Daddy have done a lot of reading, and we also work with their pediatrician and our doctors to know what’s best for our bodies. “Some people may not have the same information that we do, or they may make different choices. It’s our job to make the best choices we can to take care of our bodies.”
I laughed so hard a couple of days ago. We were stopped next to a fast food restaurant at an intersection. They had scrumptious-looking pictures on the side of their building. From the backseat, Baby A said, “Mommy! That restaurant has quesadillas! And they look GOOOOOOD! But we wouldn’t eat them because they have chemicals!” Hahaha! All of this in a sing-song voice.
I hope I’m positioning the girls to recognize fact from persuasion. And I hope I’m raising them to have strong minds and make good choices…choices that are right for them, not necessarily what’s right for someone else.
It’s definitely a tall order when messages are everywhere we look.