Issue #13 is about marketing to kids. I can't really remember how that came to be the theme. I guess it started with the Stephen Kline interview about toy marketing and grew from there.
Advertising to kids has been all over the media lately, but critics on both the right and left are so caught up on the content of certain ads--the cigarettes and alcohol--that no one's debating the issue of targeting kids in the first place. I mean, if you buy that kids should be protected from cigarette advertising since they can't critique (or resist) the sell, why should ads for other products be any different?
Of course, blaming businesses for doing what they can to make money is sort of silly--that's what businesses are for. Easier to just blame the parents: say it's their responsibility to teach kids about materialism, to just say no, etc... yeah, well, ever try to convince a kid she didn't really want Power Rangers plastic silverware set? Ok, me neither, but as Stephen Kline argues (page 8), the dynamics of children's culture is changing; the market is becoming an increasingly powerful force in kid's socialization, rivaling even parents and teachers. It's no coincidence that a common theme in children's advertising is anti-parent, anti-authority (except the authority of commerce).
Having products that are designed for kids is a good thing, no question. It's the stealth baggage that comes with them that's the problem, and that's we're concerned with here: ads disguised as education, toys and entertainments not made as ends in themselves but to sell other products, and misleading commercials.
That's it. Thanks.