If any parent out there is still in denial about the power of advertising on their little darlings' minds, let me dispel any disbelief with my unscientific, but credible example. I think I mentioned the dilemma in the Legend household where our viewing habits have changed due to the fact that our rabbit ears antennae no longer intercepts public television. Our son, who has been protected from TV ads (until now that is), has never expressed any desire to own, purchase or posses any item, no matter how perfectly crafted, that an advertising executive claimed would improve his life and therefore, his happiness. His new cartoon channel is called Qubo, which contains lots of great characters such as Rupert Bear, Postman Pat, Maisy, and an unusually large selection of penguin characters that are either inept, clumsy, or both. I may add that none of these characters carry weapons, exterminate, or otherwise depopulate their environment for fun or monetary gain, so I feel safe allowing him to view these on occasion, without parental supervision.
I was quite surprised the other day, while driving home from his Grandma's, when he asked if we could get a device he'd seen on TV that helped squeeze toothpaste from a tube without leaving a mess, or leaving any unused paste. Now I know that brushing his teeth voluntarily is not one of his best qualities, so I was surprised by his eagerness to acquire a tool to help him do just that. A little later in the week, my cell phone sprung into life on the way home in the car, and as I reached for it, he pointed out that I was about to break the law. He also stated that if I had a certain device that plugged into the phone, I could send and receive calls through the radio, hands free.
His grasp of the technical abilities and advantages of such an item, whose name now escapes me, floored me for a second or two. When I regained my composure, I enquired as to where he had gained this useful knowledge. Yup, you're right, Qubo adverts had hit their unintended mark. I say unintended, as I'm sure they were not devised for the under six. I've now started paying attention to the ads on this channel, and I must say, I am perplexed as to who their target market is. Many of the adverts are for the mobility impaired, such as motorized wheel chairs, or the dexterity impaired such as food chopping tools that allow you to chop vegetables and put them in the pot without spreading them all over the stove top and kitchen counter. Personally, anyone that is so clumsy should not be allowed anywhere near a kitchen for their own safety, but I digress. Is this a sign of things to come and I haven't quite reached their target demographic yet, or is there a sizable population in the USA over 50 that has reverted to their childhood need for cartoons? Who knows!
I now spend a little more time involved in our son's viewing, but this is more to do with getting lots of cuddles and affection than it is to do with supervision. And who knows, I might be persuaded to buy something that I didn't know I needed but can't really do without.