Essay 2: Children and Consumerism
Children and teens have, for the most part, been put in the crosshairs of advertisers that take advantage
of their vulnerability and sometimes vain pursuits for identity. Yet perhaps teens are also given the ability of
self-expression and meaningful validation in consumerism. For example, music and clothing offer outlets for
growth and exploration. Perhaps teens would be better off in their adulthood if they were exposed to the
influence of consumerism, which seeks to categorize and isolate the consumer (Twitchell 166). Understanding
the influence of advertising is certainly one of many hurdles in managing money as well as wants versus
needs; learning to value substance over vanity is an important lesson for anything from choosing a career path
to signing the dotted-line of a mortgage agreement. Moreover, young people may benefit from experiencing, as
James Twitchell describes it in “What we are to Advertisers,” “positioning” and the sheer power
advertisements use to target and manipulate consumer groups (164).
: Your audience for this essay will be your classmates and instructor.
: Write an essay with a central argument that is supported by your observations and the text.
Recommended Resources (though you may use any resource we have discussed for class):
The Merchants of Cool
“Masters of Desire”,
“Selling to Children”,
“What we are to Advertisers”,
“The Treadmill of Consumption”,
“Men’s Men and Women’s Women”
“The More Factor”,
“The Science of Shopping”,
“I Won. I’m Sorry.”
: This essay should be four to five full pages in length. You must use 12-point, Times New Roman
font. Use one-inch margins for the document. Include an MLA Works Cited Page and in-text MLA citations.
You must use at least two of the resources discussed in class, but you may use more sources if you see fit.
Additionally, you may certainly draw from your personal experiences growing up with your guardian(s).
one advertisement (or two maximum)
, still images or videos, in answering
of the following
To what extent should advertising to children or teens be limited by their guardian(s)?
How do toys reinforce gender stereotypes for girls and boys?
: Focus on
age group for purposes of this essay. Two age groups you might examine could be
between the ages of 5-13 (elementary and middle school students) or 14-18 (high school students).
Remember, advertising can take place via the internet, YouTube, social media, TV, movies, radio, signs,
billboards, and so on. Focus on one of the aforementioned mediums for purposes of this essay. You might
consider your upbringing, your siblings, or relatives. Also, consider how you would want to raise your children
or how you are currently raising your children. Draw from your experiences writing essay one when
considering an advertisement and your use of the text. For question two, you might visit a toy store/ store that
sells toys and take some photos of the aisles or individual products.