Friday, November 6, 2009

Doing our part to train the next generation of consumers

As I was slapping together three "teddy bear" peanut butter and "squeeze jam" "smart bread" sandwiches this morning, I reflected on how the media has influenced our children's diet. It used to be that in response to the KFC commercial where the mom heroically brings a bucket of dinner home, I would chirp sarcastically to my husband, "Yeah, right -- there is a 'good' mom". Back when we had one baby drinking breast milk, I swore my kids would not grow up on KD and hot dogs; we planned to feed our children a healthy and wholesome diet. Now my kids know "Taco Tuesday" and "Toonie Tuesdays" might mean greasy take-out before hockey practice. Yum! My kids love pizza, mac and cheese, and hot dogs. Thankfully, my children will also eat cooked and raw veggies, massive loads of fruit, whole wheat everything, and a range of meats and proteins. They also ask for sugar coated, marshmallow infused breakfast cereal that a manic leprechaun sells on TV, along with other amazing items.

"Mom, buy that kind of shampoo, it will make your hair thick and shiny" said my 4.5 year old as we cruised the aisle.

"How do you know that?" I asked.

"Mooooom, its on TV" he sighed, as if I was the most clueless parent on the planet.

In the next aisle, my oldest son gets excited and points to a certain box of cereal with a tiger on it, "Mom, get that one... it tastes GRrrrrrreat!!".

While sitting with my children watching some television, I listen as my son mimics the announcer who is demonstrating a food chopper: "Time for a handheld breakfast, just start with your boiled egg, one chop, and then add a pickle and ham. ... You are going to like my nuts...".

Both of my children sing along with several commercials for junk food and know the jingles for a range of items we would never consider buying. Should I be worried when they chant the themes for cartoons on Treehouse and RetroTunes? When they list the toys they can get with a happy meal at McDs or Burger Thing? I do worry that our children's TV exposure to market savvy media, along with the "what have you got?" school competition at recess and lunch, and our own desire to make them happy, have slowly affected some of our healthy household buying habits at the grocery store.

As I pop the PBJ into the SpongeBob and Lightening McQueen tupperware containers, I take a big bite of my own sandwich and wash it down with my double milk Tim Horton's coffee, and wonder whether this is an issue to spend much more time worrying about.

No comments: