#DadsRT: Seasonal Attack Ads

My wife grew up in South America while I lived in a rural suburb and went to school in Seattle, and we both have done a fair amount of domestic and international travel. In our eyes, it would be an immense disservice to our kids to shrink their world to only the things they see everyday and are comfortable with.

With the holidays upon us, we are bombarded with consumerism, commercialism, and a retail-driven sense of entitlement. That toy that you bought them last year is now obsolete, because the new one is now white or blinks! Children’s’ television is the biggest offender. They use words like COOL and AWESOME, which everyone wants to be and have.

How do we make sure that our kids do not fall prey to retail gimmicks and blurred holiday seasons? How do we ensure that they do not start Black Friday on that Wednesday, and that we all are not completely broke by Cyber Monday? How do we get our kids to see more than what is in front of them?  How do you help your child grow with the proper perspective on life in our society of consumption?  And what should that “proper perspective” even be?

Discuss below in the comments, and join us this Wednesday on Twitter as we have a Live Chat about this topic at 6pst/9est using the #DadsRT hashtag.



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  1. Left Coast Dad says:

    Be up front with them. Express your displeasure with marketing. Explain to them how they are trying to get you to buy things you don’t need. Expose the lies in marketing and advertising not just with the holiday ads, but all of it. It comes to a head this time of year, but this is something to do all year long.

    “See this ad, it looks like a great deal, right? But you have to look at the fine print. If you don’t arrive before 9am the price jumps up by $200. They are trying to trick you into buying it at the higher price by not telling you the whole truth so when you do show up you’re more likely to just go ahead and get that new TV anyway.” – or something like that.

    • Teaching kids about how marketing works is a valuable skill for them to have. How do we make sure we do not create cynics? My son (3yo) watched the Ford Fusion commercial where the car drives off a cliff and flies through the air, and he said, “Whoa!” I love the youthful innocence.

      • Left Coast Dad says:

        I would rather my kids be cynics with regards to marketing than be dupes to it. Being wary of advertising practices doesn’t necessarily lead to a lack of enthusiasm for our wonderful capitalist culture.

  2. With our actions. With regards to “retail gimmicks” and how quickly these products become obsolete, the have this new color pad thing trying to replace good old fashion crayons and markers. Judging from the commercial, as much as it gives you the ability to create, I get the sense it also “draws for you” in a way. Coloring outside the lines a thing of the past? Silly.

    We still color with our kids and won’t succumb to some gimmicky pad. That’s what I mean by actions. Just recently my wife and 5yo fashioned their own shield for his Captain America Halloween costume out of construction paper and markers. Also, after his worksheets from Kindergarten started piling up, we created this box for him to keep all of his papers in and he colored the outside of it all on this own. It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen him make yet. The kid can color, that’s for sure.


    • One of the BEST toys my kids have ever had, was the reinforced box that a piece of furniture came in. That box was a cave, a house, a spaceship, car, boat, and more before becoming a puppet show stage. There was not “app” for that.

      I am a techie, but I still appreciate the need for good ol’ fashioned imagination and interaction. I watched my brother’s kids this last weekend, and after a day full of iPads, and Xbox, and iPhones, I put the iPads away, and told them to play with their cousins. Sometimes if you overindulge, you need to detox!

      • You just reminded me of this cardboard rocket ship given to the boys as a gift that they played with for months upon months. It came all white and ready to be colored, which we did, and then sat front and center in our dining room for about 3 months as the boys used it much in the way you describe that furniture box above. I would send my buddy (the one who gave it to them as a gift) a pic every few weeks saying, “still standing,” as this thing took a beating on a daily basis and took forever to finally succumb to two crazy boys.

        We can win this battle. It’s in our hands.

  3. What about giving away toys before the holiday season? Does that teach kids to share with those who are less fortunate than them, or does it teach them to make room for more cool toys?

    • James Hudyma says:

      I think that depends on the kid and the emphasis you place on the value of the giving.

  4. James Hudyma says:

    Commercials are so good at hooking kids. I still remember the jingles to half the toys from my youth. We do our best not to show our kids shows with commercials but they still sneak them in there and before we knew it our kids were asking for specific toys.

    I do know that in some of the Scandinavian countries it is illegal to market to children. I’m on side with this policy.

    • Netflix is amazing for that. When my daughter was younger, she got upset when commercials came on at other people’s houses, because she thought her show was over.

      • DaddyBriefs says:

        I would agree. My wife and I don’t even watch TV anymore, nor do we have cable TV. We just watch Netflix all the time which is commercial free.

        • Netflix gets me sucked into shows… I’ve watched seasons upon seasons of Dexter, Rescue Me, and others in the matter of days.

This is what I think...