Thursday, October 13, 2011

A pretty typical day.  Finished watching The Corporation (again) with Mae while Libby took a nap.  DH got up on time in the evening to spend dinner and bathtime with us. 

We had a conversation about marketing to children.  I told him about a recent trip to Target where I was looking for blocks in the toy department.  First thing I reported was that they do not have blocks, which dumbfounded me all by itself.  But the 2nd thing I noted as I looked for blocks was that every single aisle is organized by brand, not by type of toy.  Except for the game aisle, which still runs along the back of the department.  All the other aisles are not labeled "dolls" "art" "pretend play" as they used to be.  They are now labeled "Barbie" "Fisher Price" "Bratz" and a dozen others that I can't remember.  Since I was looking for "blocks" I was confused by the aisle markers after a couple of aisles.  When I got to the end of the toy department and realized that EVERY SINGLE AISLE was organized by brand, I couldn't quite believe it and had to go back through once or twice to be certain. 

I do not agree with this type of play.  Mike asked me why not.  I guess it is because I believe a toy or plaything should appeal to a child because it is fun and has value in itself.  Instead we are being told that slapping a character on something makes it fun, whatever it is.  I know it has been like this for a while, but Legos are no longer Legos.  They are only available as Star Wars Legos or Harry Potter Legos or Spongebob Legos.  The Playdoh was only available as either Batman Playdoh or Sesame Street Playdoh.  Why can't it just be Legos or Playdoh? 

I am concerned by the licensed character explosion because I am afraid it encourages collecting the character for the character's sake, without any desire for the toy/sippy cup/shirt/whatever that the character has been slapped onto.  Libby's fascination with Elmo is really starting to bother me because she wants anything with Elmo on it simply because it has Elmo on it.  On the other hand, she is not old enough to even know what Playdoh is or appreciate anything for its own value.  She just knows she recognizes Elmo.  Elmo is a TV character and we don't even have TV.  She does not watch Sesame Street on the Roku/Netflix.  She has learned about Elmo from dolls, reading books, and coloring books that other people have brought into our home.  When she outgrew her cloth diapers we switched to disposable diapers.  She now recognizes Elmo on her diapers.  Why is a character on diapers?  To amuse the parent?  Make the kid look cute?  Or something more sinister?

But Elmo makes her happy.  What is wrong with that?  Nothing.  But I also don't want Elmo selling her a bunch of toys she would not otherwise be interested in, and I can totally see that happening if I don't find a way to squash it.

We do not allow commercial TV in our home.
I try to minimize shopping trips with the babies, and eventually shopping trips with kids will probably be eliminated altogether.
We will be homeschooling, so our children will not be exposed to the marketing that occurs on/in school buses, channel 1, Scholastic publications, book fairs, sponsors of in-school fitness, nutrition, and green programs, etc.  Not to mention the "keeping up with the Joneses" effect that even children have on each other. 

Instead of the above, we provide creative play items and classic books.  Although I am a Disney fan myself, I do not allow most Disney products into our home.  Again, the few things we do have were brought in by others.  I want Libby to develop her own play characters - not to simply parrot a Disney princess that she has memorized.

We've had many people (including complete strangers) comment on Libby's apparent fascination with music and dance.  We enjoy and encourage this as well.  But I thought all kids loved music and dance.

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