Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds

Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds

by Susan Gregory Thomas


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Our kids are becoming consumers at an alarmingly young age. Many children are already asking for products by brand name at age two. Toy and media corporations have long manipulated the insecurities of parents to move their products, but Buy, Buy Baby unveils the chilling fact that these companies are now using and often funding the latest research in child development to enable them to sell directly to babies and toddlers. Susan Gregory Thomas presents shocking evidence that some of these products actually impair development and could harm our kids socially and cognitively, for life.

The good news is that parents can overcome this dangerous economic and cultural shift. Blending prodigious reportage with an empathic voice, Thomas shows how we can help our children live at their natural pace, not the frenetic clip that serves only the toddler-industrial complex. Buy, Buy Baby helps us fight the power that marketers wield by exposing the false fears they spread.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780547237954
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date: 08/12/2009
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 290
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

SUSAN GREGORY THOMAS is an investigative journalist and broadcaster. Formerly a senior editor at US News & World Report and co-host of public TV’s Digital Duo, she has written for several publications, including Time, the Washington Post, and Glamour. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

1 Learn Something New Every Day 23

2 "There's a New Mom in Town" 52

3 "It's Like Preschool on TV" 71

4 A Vast and Uncontrolled Experiment 94

5 Elmo's World 109

6 The Princess Lifestyle 136

7 Anything to Get Them to Read 160

8 Developing Character in Preschool 181

Conclusion: A Defense of "Nothing" 207

Notes 233

Bibliography 253

Acknowledgments 263

Index 265

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Buy, Buy Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Terzah on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A great book that underscores yet again why children shouldn't be exposed to too much TV and other "media" influences at too young an age. I liked the author's clear summaries of the scientific research (as well as the unscientific assumptions) in this area, as well as her characterization of Generation X parents. I recognized myself in her depictions, and will leave my TV *off* until my twins are at least three.
SelimaCat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
You must read this book. Right now. This book looks at how "spokescharacters" are directly marketed to babies and toddlers, at how "educational" toys and videos are marketed to parents, and how Generation X's quirks influence their parenting (and susceptibility to marketers). This book hit me hard. I was amazed to see my own parenting style so neatly described in her discussions of Gen X parents. This book is packed with studies and insider information that add some muscle to her discussion, rather than relying on rhetoric alone. As I read it, I kept reading snippets aloud to my husband (so many that he now feels he doesn't have to read it). Husband finally said "so what does she want us to DO?" She does give a clear outline of action at the end, actions on the personal, community, and governmental levels, which help keep the book from being a tirade.
Busy__Mom More than 1 year ago
This book, first 'introduced' to me on ParentsDigest, reveals the consumer traps we parents all fall into. How scary is it that 'Corporate America' is manipulating our every purchase and trying to get their hands on our children at the youngest possible age. This book is an eye-opener and a must read for every parent.
ParentsDigest_Pam More than 1 year ago
Buy Buy Baby was one of my most helpful parents books I have read since giving birth in May. Relatable and relevant, I strongly recommend this book.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
You're going to hear a lot about this book. And, if you're like me, a lot of what you read in 'Buy, Buy Baby' is going to surprise you. It's going to make you angry, too. Case in point: A 2004 University of Pennsylvania study found 'watching Sesame Street is 'negatively related' to expressive language use--that is, it decreased--and unrelated to vocabulary size.' What's going on here? The reason we feel good--we feel safe--about our toddlers watching the Sesame gang is the program's educational value. However, author Susan Gregory Thomas tells us that kids age 0 to 3 are least likely to learn new words from TV programs with animated characters like Elmo. Why Elmo is practically the patron saint of two-year-olds! But it seems kids learn new words best when parents and other adult caregivers teach them the meanings. What the youngest viewers are really doing is bonding with the characters. The education they're getting is a head start on brands. Children as young as 18 months can discern brands and, as their moms attest, by age 2 many youngsters ask for products by brand names--Cheerios, Disney, McDonald's, Pop-Tarts, Coke, and Barbie. As for the popular Elmo, the giggly red plush charmer is Sesame Street's most licensed character. This produces a significant effect on the company's bottom line. In 2004, Thomas reports, 68% of Sesame Workshop's revenues came from licensing. Page after page of this brilliant, riveting book builds an eye-popping picture of a consumer culture gone wild, sucking in parents and setting infants and toddlers on the path to rampant materialism. Baby Einstein, LeapFrog, Sesame Street, they're all here--and more. Susan Gregory Thomas, an experienced investigative journalist, herself the mother of two small daughters, devoted more than three years to meticulously tracking down every relevant piece of research, interviewing all the principals herself. 'Buy, Buy Baby' is essential reading for everyone who cares about kids. You won't be able to put it down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This will, in all likelihood, be the most important book published this year. Susan Gregory Thomas uncovers and exposes a threat to every child, and the adult that child is to become, that most of us are only vaguely aware of: the unbelievably extensive corporate attempt--clearly successful¿to turn our children into unthinking consumers motivated only by status. Thomas is tenacious in her demonstration of the lengths to which companies go in order to turn our sons and daughters into automatons substituting an addictive desire for the next ¿must-have¿ item for the development of imagination and learning. Most of us were aware that advertising aimed at children was unwholesome, but Thomas shows the myriad ways in which such advertising is merely the tip of the iceberg. Here it is possible present only a small sample of the lines of attack used not merely by mega-corporations, but also by ¿parent-friendly¿ companies. Their armamentarium includes manipulation by findings of academic psychologists, neurological investigation, licensing ploys that limit choice and raise price, collusion by education organizations and revered operations like Sesame Street and Baby Einstein¿the list goes on and on. This one book makes the reader a virtual expert on the subject and an able opponent against those who would brainwash your children. (Thomas shies away from the term, but it is impossible not to see the practices she exposes in such terms.) The importance of this book, and its potential to improve our children¿s lives, is huge. It is not going too far to say that Susan Gregory Thomas is the Rachel Carlson challenging the practices she describes. Buy, Buy Baby is compulsively readable and spellbindingly interesting, but these are the least of its virtues. If you have kids, or worry about what kids face today, this book is for you Steven Goldberg Chairman (Retired) Department of Sociology City College, City University of New York