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THE KINGS AND QUEENS OF THE HOUSE

By NBF News
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SIR: The advertising industry sees in children main targets. Children ask their parents for all kinds of things. Parents buy these gadgets and gift them to their sons and/or daughters. This is the vicious cycle of child consumerism.

The Director of the Investigation and Documentation Centre on Consumerism in France, Robert Rochefort asserts that children from the age of three become direct consumers by ordering their parents what must be bought. The French Institute for Children has estimated that children spend more than €3,800 million.

Furthermore, children are the consumers who determine 75 per cent of cereal sales, 73 per cent of fermented milk sales, 72 per cent of leisure activity services, and 43 per cent of vacation locations.

Interestingly enough, the minute these youngsters set foot in pre-school, they begin to compare themselves with their classmates. What backpack does she have? What shirt is he wearing? What kind of ballerina slippers does she have on? What kind of sandwich did his mom prepare? This spiral of comparative questions, and first signs of jealousy, are long listed. The child begins to wish for what his or her friends have, even if what they own is more expensive and of better quality.

As soon as the school day is over, the listing of the new wanted things begins. Parents will then attempt to fulfill their child's wishes, making the child the king, or queen, of the house. These children become a sort of pitiless tyrants.

Children are much more innocent than their parents in winning the consumer's race. Parents, teachers, businesses, advertisers, etc., should already know that happiness derives from sharing rather than possessing goods, from being rather than having, from giving rather than receiving, from saving rather than spending. We all must educate children to become 'responsible consumers'.

Advertisements that are aimed at children should be cured up to the last detail. Since children have a decisive audience profile, as well as a condition of being defenceless in front of ads, the advertising industry for children must constantly be under responsible regulation. These ads should neither be deceiving nor manipulative; their messages should be clear since children are vulnerable into confusing what is illusive with what is real.