Great New Book on
How Corporations Are Brainwashing Children
Commercial Alert, August 30, 2004
Schor has just written the best book yet on marketing to children, titled
to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture. Much
of the book is a fine review of how corporations advertise to children,
with illuminating interviews of advertising executives. But what makes
the book a standout is Schor's new research on the effects of marketing
and commercial culture on children. By far, it's the best research yet
on how marketing harms kids. Schor is a professor of sociology at Boston
College (and soon-to-be member of Commercial Alert's board of directors).
For Born to Buy, Schor conducted a Survey on Children, Media and Consumer Culture, to answer the question of how children¹s involvement in the commercial culture affects their well-being. She used a complex statistical technique (called structural equation modeling) to analyze the data, which allowed her to determine directions of causality. The results are fascinating.
"High consumer involvement is a significant cause of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and psychosomatic complaints," in children, Schor reports. Psychologically healthy children will be made worse off if they become more enmeshed in the culture of getting and spending. Children with emotional problems will be helped if they disengage from the worlds that corporations are constructing for them."
She also found that "Higher levels of consumer involvement result in worse relationships with parents." Schor's book reaffirms the importance of the Parents' Bill of Rights, a set of nine legislative proposals to allow parents to control the commercial influences on their children.