I have just watched the movie "Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood"
on YouTube, you can watch it here: [link]
- it lasts over an hour though, and I'm sure you're all too busy, but it's Friday night, so if you're at home, trust me, it's worth it.
The conclusion of the film is in short: kids get conditioned into buying stuff, watching screens, and only emulate learned behavior, losing the chance to develop their own imagination.
I think this is very true.
I have a younger brother, he's 17 now. We were raised by the same parents, but under different circumstances. When I was a kid, we lived in the country until I was 4.5 years old. We had a small farm with sheep, chickens, our own vegetable garden, fruit, corn etc. I was a very lonely kid - surrounded only by adults most of the time, and adults pretty much don't have the time to entertain you. I had books, TV, notebooks, colored pencils and markers, and some toys - building blocks, cars, stuffed animals, and two Barbie dolls. I was playing alone, and often talking to myself, the way children do when you leave them alone. Later I got some Mickey Mouse comic books from older cousins so I got pulled into the same marketing scheme everyone else was in and soon we moved to a slightly less rural town, and I had to learn to socialize with children. It was difficult, but I made it through somehow with minor emotional bruises.
At one period in my childhood, I think between ages 11 and 14, me and my pals (ages 6, to 14 like me) who came to the village over summer had a game. There was this threshing floor in the village that wasn't used for over a decade, and it had a low wall you could sit on so we imagined it was our house, and we were brothers and sisters aged from 13 to 18. We were a rich family, and our parents were always on a business trip, or on a vacation on Hawaii or something. So we had this house, but no things in it - then we went to a huge pile of rocks and searched for stones that looked like things. Each of us had a "room" with stones arranged on the wall that looked like TV, computer, telephone, hairdryer, make up... we had everything made of rocks. I shit you not. My cousins teased me that we're playing the Flinstones. Well we couldn't care less about the Flinstones, our setting was modern, but rocks were everything we had.
My younger brother did not have this "rural buffer". He was immersed in the culture since age 3 when he started kindergarten. When he was a child, we already had a computer at home and sometimes I'd let him play Super Mario. Then Pokemon came, and he was as infatuated as any other kid. Then there was something else, then there were soccer games, computer games on my old laptop, etc.
I love him of course, but I have a hard time accepting that he ended up so different. He isn't interested in anything other than girls, computer games, watching sports (not even playing anymore) and drinking. I'm disappointed, but really there's nothing I could do to prevent it from happening. I gave him books, played boardgames with him, drew with him... He had access to everything I had, and even more. Now I think this "more" part was somehow at fault. I don't know.
I was a bad girl too at his age of course (and occasionally I still am), but at least I was creative! I was sewing bags, painting silk scarfs, making jewelry, playing the piano, reading a 500 page book a week, started designing web sites... I can't remember a time of my life when I wasn't creating something
. Now of course, I don't expect everyone to be like that. Having that many hobbies is a curse actually and I would advise against it. But one, just one, at least reading something that isn't Dylan Dog, come on...
A lot of times I hear from young folks here on the forums, "I have an art block, I don't know what to draw!"
I can't remember when I had this problem. There's always more pictures in my head, then I can put on paper. To me, and "art block" is when I can't be arsed to pick up a pencil because I'm just too lazy. Not lack of imagination.
And then, at the bottom of the barrel, there are kids who don't even try to imagine anything. Just Naruto, Pokemon, Disney, Sailor Moon, Sonic, and whatever else is popular these days. OK sure, if you're inspired by a cartoon, draw something every now and then, but all the freaking time? How don't you kids get bored with that?
And now I understand how.
The poor little imagination-lacking indoctrinated creatures.
Take away their favorite cartoon characters, and what do they have left?
Is there anything left?
Does anyone ever talk to themselves anymore?
Does anyone play with sticks and rocks, other than throwing them at cats?
Are we as a society rooting out creativity?
I have no idea how you're supposed to be a good parent these days. If I do things the way I think it's right, my child is going to be an outcast like I was, and will probably resent me.
I get really depressed when I think about it and wonder if I even want to bring a child into this cruel world.