Wednesday, August 08, 2007

On McDonalds and preschoolers

Leif slept all morning while I was getting ready, so since we don't have the TV on while he is up unless it is an acceptable movie or something Tivo'd for him that doesn't have commercials in it, I relished the morning listening to the news on TV while I got ready.

I listened to a story about how a study was performed on preschoolers ages 3-5 about their food preferences. They presented the children with food wrapped in a McDonalds wrapper or in a plain wrapper and asked which they preferred. Well not surprisingly the kids overwhelmingly preferred the same food from the McDonalds wrapper.

As a scientist, my main question about this study was what happens if you put a wrapper with say... balloons and monkeys on it next to it as well. Would the kids cue in on this? Isn't there something to that they like the colors over the plain white wrapper? My guess would be yes... or at least my toddler would because his favorite color is yellow.

My three year old doesn't know McDonalds. We have been inside one once, maybe twice while traveling. He didn't even eat the food there (that we bought), but instead played in the play area. My child wouldn't know food from McDonalds from Wendy's from Burger King from the freezer. I am not saying this to be condescending. And truly it isn't something I necessarily set out to do.

Instead what I set out to do was to limit the amount of network television, with commercials that my son sees. It actually isn't hard. We are too busy to watch TV when home together as a family. I can also say this because my husand and I work and we aren't home with them all day. So that very limited time when we are home together, we aren't in front of the boob tube. And I like the boob tube! Don't get me wrong there either. I have no problem with the TV, but when it comes to my kids I prefer to monitor very closely what they are watching. And preferably not commercials because, for one I don't care to feel like I have to buy the IT toy every year for Christmas.

Back to the story. There was a debate between a woman for commercial free childhood debating (if you could call it a debate) a man from somewhere. The woman argued that it should be legislated that corporations couldn't market to children. How do you legislate this? Where do you draw that line between something a child would be interested in and something too old for kids? When advertising ceases to placate to kids, wouldn't they just become interested in what is being shown to adults? And why is it because it is good for me, it is good for everyone else in the US?

I am a capitalist and believe in the free market. I am also pretty libertarian at heart and believe that the government should have a minimal role in our lives and that we as humans should be trusted to do what we deem right and moral. So I am obviously opposed to such legislation.

One woman interviewed said that she got tired of her 4 year old daughter seeing the "M", the Golden Arches, and squealing "McDonalds!" everytime they drove by one.

And whose fault is this? Apparently, it's McDonalds fault. You know, not the actual parents fault.

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