Parents are writing letters to toy companies asking them to stop targeting ads at kids. According to the AP story (link here to the USA today version),
The letter-writing initiative was launched by the Boston-based Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which says roughly 1,400 of its members and supporters have contacted 24 leading toy companies and retailers to express concern about ads aimed at kids.
“Unfortunately, I will not be able to purchase many of the toys that my sons have asked for; we simply don’t have the money,” wrote Todd Helmkamp of Hudson, Ind. “By bombarding them with advertisements … you are placing parents like me in the unenviable position of having to tell our children that we can’t afford the toys you promote.”
This is absurd on so many levels, I almost don’t know where to start. First, toy companies have to sell toys, and to do that, they have to advertise. I ask you, who else besides kids are toy ad supposed to target? Personally, I don’t know a lot of adults who play with Barbies and Legos.
Second, since when do parents have to buy their kids every toy the kids see advertised? My mom told me no plenty of times when I was a kid and wanted some toy or other. Sometimes it was, “No, we can’t afford it,” and sometimes it was just plain old “No.” Imagine, telling your child no. What a concept. Apparently, it’s more than some parents these days can handle. According to the AP story:
“Parents have trouble saying no,” said Allison Pugh, a University of Virginia sociology professor. She says parents often buy toys to avoid guilt and ensure their children feel in sync with school classmates.
“Even under circumstances of dire financial straits, that’s the last thing parents give up,” said Pugh. “They’ll contain their own buying for themselves before they’ll make their child feel different at school.”
Amanda Almodovar says she encounters such families in her work as an elementary school social worker in Alamance County, N.C., where homelessness and unemployment are rising.
“I had one parent who said she’d prostitute herself to get what her child wants,” Almodovar said. “It’s heartbreaking. They feel inadequate as parents.
Heartbreaking isn’t the word that came immediately to my mind.
“I want an American Girl doll now, Mommy!”
“All right, dear. Mommy’ll just give this nice man a BJ and I’ll have the money in a jif.”
I really hope I wake up tomorrow and find that I dreamed this article.