Note on Advertising Filters for Children

There was an incident a couple of years ago in which Manchild became very attached to a box of Cap’n Crunch at the grocery store (even though he’d never tried/seen it before) and it was a trial of patience to pry it from his little fingers. I was – and am – grateful that the boys have never seen an ad for such things. I’m also grateful that, as far as they are concerned, McDonald’s is that place we got a hamburger once because we were with some friends. (Although for a day or so Manchild thought McDonald’s was a lemonade stand, an idea he got from an ad for sweet tea in the subway.)

But this article about childhood obesity and advertising to children made me wonder if we are doing enough to protect our kids from advertisers simply by not owning a tv. We definitely screen any movies or shows the boys watch on Youtube, and there’s not much we can do about the ads in the subway (almost none of which are actually aimed at kids). But I’m sure there are holes in our filtration system. I just hope they hear us when we talk about health and the reasons why we eat the way we do and why we make our food as much as we can rather than buying it processed and packaged already.

Is advertising to children something that concerns you? How do you handle/filter it?

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  1. Of course it is a concern. We own an old school tv but don’t get any channels because we keep the computer in our office. I don’t want my kids to be computer saavy or know they can play games…just yet. I haven’t had tv in over 10 years, but still I feel relatively I the loop. I don’t read newspapers or magazines either, BUT the place I see the most headlines is in line at the grocery store and on busses. Of course a lot of those at the grocery store are tabloids…yuck. I finally found a store with a “family friendly” checkout lane…NO magazines or tabloids or publications ( plenty of little gadgets/toys/candy however). Anyway, I always use that lane even if the wait is longer because I appreciate not being bombarded with weird messages and news. My husband and I have also made it a point to save certain adult conversations for after the kids are in bed (ie politics or war or anything that in overhearing such info could be worrisome or cause anxiety for a little child) I guess you could say we filter ourselves. I dont want my kids to be super duper sheltered, I do want them to be able to handle the world they live in, but all in time and with healthy explanations. I have to admit part of our filtering system is totally for myself: it keeps my own world a bit more calm and focused and not so overwhelming.


    lizzie Reply:

    That’s great that they have family-friendly checkout lanes. I hadn’t thought about that kind of thing because they don’t have room for magazines at New York grocery stores! Or they don’t have magazines, anyway. Though there is usually a stack of tabloid newspapers in the bagging area.

    Micah and I try to keep the “adult” conversations below the radar as well, but it doesn’t always work that way. A year or so ago we were at the Botanic Gardens here and Manchild read a plaque that was a tribute to someone who died on 9/11, which led to a conversation we were not necessarily planning to have, nor were we prepared for, but I think it was good practice for us and taught us a lot about discussing those really sensitive issues with him.


  2. We do have occasional “family movie night” where we get a movie from the library or red box, which we all enjoy!


  3. Advertising most definitely is a concern for us. It was beneficial to have a DVR, when we had dish services. We would just fast forward through the commercials. Now, we just have a Roku, and are able to watch mostly movies with no commercials.
    And on the McDonald’s thing, I am so with you there! We’ve been there twice (unintentially), and my 8-year-old still calls it “Old McDonald’s,” which is fine by me!


    lizzie Reply:

    It is nice that there are a lot of ways to block advertising and give the parents a little bit more control over what their kids see.


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