There was an interesting article in USA Weekend today about how companies are marketing to tweens because they believe that the pre-teen crowd has a lot of influence on where their parents' money is spent.
Everything from iPods to cars are marketed with kids in mind.
Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers and High School Musical are shaping the culture and the kids.
I guess it's all true.
For some kids.
See I have a tween. Pippi is eleven years old and going into middle school. But I guess she's a little counter-cultural. She has never watched Hannah Montana, nor does she care that she hasn't. She hasn't seen any of the High School Musical movies - even though I offered to rent them from the library - or even buy them if she was interested. She wasn't. She is not drooling over the Jonas Brothers - though she certainly knows people who are. So maybe I can't really relate to all of this.
But we don't let the kids rule the house here. Now it's true that there are meals I won't bother to make because I know the kids don't like it. For example I save scallops for special adult only meals. But I don't cook special "kids only" meals every night - they have what we eat.
They like to use the computer - and the computer designated as the "kids computer" crashed this summer. We haven't replaced it yet - which means the kids can only use the computer when a parent isn't on the other one. We don't give into them just because they clamor or complain. Parents get first dibs on the computer. Case closed.
As far as TV. They don't watch a lot - and neither do we. The sun room TV is for their use. If they want to use the downstairs TV they can - if a parent isn't already using it. Parents get first dibs there too
Neither of my kids are much into phone calls. But Pippi is starting to have longer phone conversations (I know this is a harbinger of things to come). Once again - parents trump kids when it comes to phone use.
Gee - in all matters it seems that parents trump kids. We take the kids needs and wants and desires into account, naturally. We're a family and we want everyone to be happy. But we don't simply give them everything they ask for when they ask for it.
And honestly, I don't think we're the only ones.
Though the article does make it sound like children are determining everything that goes on in a household.
Are parents really letting their pre-teen determine which car they will buy? Or after the major factors are accounted for - ie the practical, the financial - do they let the kids decide what color it will be? Do the parents narrow the choice down to two or three and see which ones the kids like? That is not being unreasonable. That's allowing the children a say in what happens in the family - and it's not the same as letting the children make the car buying decisions.
Now if kids are saying to Mom and Dad - "I'm really tired of the Honda we've been driving around in - go get this car instead - I saw a commercial for it on the Disney channel" - and the parent says "okay, let's go" - then, well, that's just pretty sad. I don't think that's happening.
Are kids schedules catered to in a lot of households. Yes, sure they are. There are a lot of great activities for kids to be involved in these days - and they are usually not in easy walking distance. And kids don't drive (even though apparently car makers are marketing to them) so parents chauffer them around. But just because families take into consideration the soccer schedule or what have you when planning their week is not the same as the kids ruling the roost.
Do kids really have the power the marketers think they do? I don't know. But if they do, it's because their parents have ceded their own power, which is not the best way to raise a kid.