Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood

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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.

Linn admirably refuses to soft-pedal the complexity of the issues involved.
She is well aware, for example, that any attempts to shield children from the “marketing maelstrom”
will butt up against free-speech concerns. But those battles have already been won in parts of Europe
and Canada, and need to be fought here: The problem is “not just that kids are consuming,” she concludes.
“They’re being consumed.”

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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