Recently, I was appalled when my friend, a former camp counselor, told me that one of his six-year-old campers had an iPhone. But according to a recent exposé in Adweek, it seems that the six-year-old in question was in fact late to the technology party. The article reveals that major brands have been re-directing their focus on turning babies into consumers. As a result of this, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood reports that babies now request brand-name items as soon as they can speak, and by the time they reach three years of age, they can recognize about 100 brand logos. Quelle horreur!
"'[Brands] are going younger and younger all the time,' says Dan Acuff, a former marketing consultant to Hasbro, Mattel, Nestlé, and others. 'Babies don’t distinguish between reality and fantasy, so they think, ‘Let’s get them while they’re susceptible.’'"
It's not a new concept that cell phones and iPads aren't good for babies. But it's still worth mentioning that studies suggest children under two years old should not be exposed to screens at all. That still hasn't stopped products like the Vinci — a tablet designed for children ages one to four — from hitting the market.
The physical dangers of cell phones and tablets to infants is one thing, but the long-term effects of marketing jargon on children should be considered as well. Ad-savvy feminists (and masculinists!) know that toy marketers are poised to transform girls into fairytale wedding-demanding princesses and boys into ninjas with anger issues. Check out this word cloud based on the terms that appeared most in toy ads aimed at children. Of course, "word cloud" implies that the children these terms are aimed at actually have a vocabulary. I'm still reeling that marketers are hell-bent on imprinting brand consciousness into human beings who are still in diapers.