All too often, media discussions of children swing between vague pieties ("The children are our future") and shrill hysteria ("A nipple! Children saw a nipple!"). Thankfully, Susan Linn -- who was mentored by Fred Rogers and teaches psychiatry at Harvard Medical School -- avoids pious scolding in Consuming Kids. She provides instead a measured, but ultimately devastating, critique of consumerism and American childhood.
Children influence some $600 billion in annual spending, and marketers, as Linn amply documents, will stop at nothing to harness this kiddie-consumer juggernaut. Of the head-shaking stats and anecdotes Linn supplies, perhaps the most repulsive is the "nag factor study," which identified the parents most susceptible to "pester power," whose kids thus make the most profitable advertising targets.