News Update :
Thursday, December 18, 2008

Save Our Kids This Christmas

I got an email yesterday from the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood. Check these numbers out:

$500,000,000,000: The amount of money in purchases that children under twelve influence every year.

$17,000,000,000: The amount of money spent to market to children, a staggering increase from $100 million in 1983.

$3,400,000,000: Revenue generated by the Disney Princess brand in 2006. There are 40,000 Disney Princess items on the market today.

1,200,000,000: Toys sold with kids' meals at fast food restaurants in 2006.

20,000,000: Baby Einstein videos sold by Disney through 2006. The American Academy of Pediatrics reccomends no screen time for children under two.

200,000: The acts of violence, including 40,000 murders, that the average child will see on television by the time they are eighteen.

25,000: Ads on television the average 2-11-year-old sees on television every year, a figure that does not include product placement.

4,151: The number of product placements on the first thirty-eight episodes of American Idol.

It will be an uphill battle to reclaim our children, but it is in their very best interests that we do so. In the wake of the current economic downturn, the holidays aren't going to be as rich as in years past. Maybe that's a good thing for families - to recognize and place value on the less glamorous things: a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, clothes on our backs. The number of families that are now facing food insecurity in Rhode Island alone is a staggering statistic. According to the RI Community Food Bank, one of every six RI children grows up in a home where parents struggle to put food on the table. The number of uninsured continues to grow nationally, with some 10 million children without coverage according to the Children's Defense Fund.

For some reason, we are more compelled to feel empathy for others during the holidays, something that isn't evident all year round. I am using this "guilt" to try to teach my children that they don't have to have EVERY single thing that they see with their favorite characters on it. (This works slightly better with the older one - the two year old is pretty unconvinced.) Every time I drive past a fast food restaurant without caving to the requests for the latest movie toy that accompanies a bag of crap, I feel stronger. I am currently appealing to them to let me take some of their unused, neglected toys to donate to others. (This one has been pretty tough - as soon as I put it in a box, it becomes the new favorite thing.) My efforts don't always work, I don't always say no, but even a small victory is a win for me - and ultimately, for them.
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