Commercials Are Brainwashing My Children But I Won’t Stop Letting Them Watch TV

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TV kids

There is a reason we have two Pillow Pets in our house. And two Flashlight Friends. And two Tummy Stuffers. My kids watch Nickelodeon (the big kid one, not Nick Jr., which is blessedly, commercial-free) and they are both a marketing guru’s dream. They watch commercials, commit them to memory and beg for whatever they’ve seen creatively shilled to their impressionable little minds. Sometimes, the results are hysterical but most of the time, it’s annoying that commercials are brainwashing my children.

Our son tells us that the stains will come out faster with OxiClean and it’s new and improved formula- he actually berates us for using Tide. We took them out to Wendy’s this summer for their new pretzel burgers because they had seen the commercials and grown obsessed. Our daughter got a Snackeez from my mother for her birthday because she saw the commercial and has been begging for one ever since. I could go on all day. When my kids watch TV, it’s usually because I need to work or get some chores done around the house. Usually, I can assuage my guilt because they do spend many of their free hours playing pretend, reading or doing puzzles. They are smart kids and do well in school. They behave beautifully most of the time. What can a little TV hurt? 

Well, it doesn’t seem to hurt them at all. It ends up hurting me and my husband when we get peppered with requests for an assortment of goods and services after they’ve watched a few hours of TV. As we speak, I am sitting next to my son on the couch and in the last hour, he has asked me to sign him up for Gamefly, buy him a new bike and take him to McDonald’s. You could say this was all harmless and that I should just smile and nod, knowing he will swiftly forget about it all in minutes and move on but that is not the case. Both he and his sister have remarkable memories when it comes to shit they want me to buy and I feel like the requests are going to put me over the edge. We hit a breaking point during last year’s holiday shopping season when I realized that half of their Christmas gifts were crap they saw commercials for and became totally convinced they needed. Now, I’ve spent the last ten months shoving the Flashlight Friends back in the closet and stumbling over the parts of the Ninja Turtles Shellraiser vehicle that my son played with twice and promptly abandoned. It becomes very obvious in those moments that these items were never something my kids actually wanted but the commercials convinced them that they did.

I won’t stop letting them watch TV that involves commercials but I think we need to start having talks about how there is a reason they want everything they see on TV and it’s because those songs and slogans are designed to win them over. I need to help them understand that they are basically being had and that what they really want might not be advertised on TV. We will see how this Christmas goes. They have already started their lists, naturally, and the first item is some dumb animal blanket with a hood and compartments for their hands. Lord help me.

(Image: racorn/Shutterstock)