Teach Kids To Be Informed Consumers

OSWEGO, NY – When the holiday season begins, the children in our care tend to turn up the demands of what they “just have to have.”

It’s not surprising why this happens.  From that amazing toy to the awesome new gum flavor, kids are exposed to an average of more than 3,000 marketing ploys per day through television, internet, billboards, and magazines.

However, this time of year can also present a great opportunity to help your young consumers understand how they are the targets of marketing; a lesson that could literally save their life.

Children are too young to spot advertising tricks on their own but old enough to be influenced by the ads.

Exposure to marketing can contribute significantly to obesity, poor nutrition, materialism, as well as cigarette and alcohol use.

Yet one of the most powerful tools for helping kids understand marketing manipulation is a simple conversation.

When your children see advertising, make a game of guessing what they’re being urged to buy. You can also talk about the placement of products in their favorite shows or sporting events and how it’s intended to make them to want the same brand-name gear as the stars and athletes.

Websites such as PBS’s Don’t Buy It (pbskids.org/dontbuyit) and the Federal Trade Commissions’ Ad Mongo (admongo.gov) offer additional resources for teaching kids how to be informed consumers.

Equipping your kids with these critical thinking skills will help guide them through crucial decision-making in everyday situations.

Convenience stores, grocery stores and pharmacies, for example, are some of the last places where tobacco companies can expose kids to their advertising.

Consequently, tobacco companies spend billions of dollars each year marketing their deadly products by controlling dominant display space in retail stores and through in-store advertising.

Research suggests that exposure to in-store tobacco promotions is a primary cause of youth smoking.

And according to a recent local survey, Oswego County kids are being targeted by cigarette makers with a massive amount of this advertising in our area’s stores.

Key findings of this observational study include:

  • 90% of stores featured tobacco product displays behind the cash register.
  • 30% of tobacco ads appeared near toys and/or candy.
  • Tobacco ads were found inside 68% of stores.
  • 15% of stores selling tobacco were located within 1,000 feet of school.

Next time you visit your neighborhood store, take notice of what your children are seeing.

Not fulfilling our children’s every desire doesn’t make us bad parents or caregivers, but good ones.

Learning to master delayed gratification and cope with disappointment are crucial steps in kids’ growth and development.

Rules and limits also help them feel secure.

Most importantly, your thoughtful guidance could very well be the influence that helps them make choices that will allow them to lead long, healthy lives.

To learn more about the marketing practices of tobacco companies and how to protect your children, please visit www.tobaccofreeoswego.com or call (315)343-2344 extension 21.

Christina Wilson, executive director
of Integrated Community Planning Inc. of Oswego County