Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood
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Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  270 ratings  ·  61 reviews
With the intensity of the California gold rush, corporations are racing to stake their claim on the consumer group formerly known as children. What was once the purview of a handful of companies has escalated into a gargantuan enterprise estimated at over $15 billion annually. While parents struggle to set limits at home, marketing executives work day and night to undermin...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published May 6th 2004 by New Press, The (first published May 1st 2004)
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Suzka
Apr 01, 2008 Suzka rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone, kids or no kids
Recommended to Suzka by: heard an interview with the author on NPR
If I sound like an old-timey gospel hour preacher on this topic, it's because I am:

It makes me CRAZY to think of how many times a day that some marketing effort, in some form, crosses our path (and worse, that of our children.) This book makes a strong case for a parents (and extended family members and caregivers...) to become aware of (and work to counteract) the billions of dollars being spent to hijack the opinions and tastes and choices of our children. Read this to learn about the psycholo...more
Emily
Nov 10, 2009 Emily rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2005
Last week, as I was digging around looking for something to read on the subway, I picked up a copy of Consuming Kids: Protecting Our Children from the Onslaught of Marketing & Advertising, a book by a Harvard psychologist that is substantially less priggish than its title makes it sound. Covered with blurbs by the likes of Marian Wright Edelman and T. Berry Brazelton, Susan Linn's book is a good study of marketing and children, as well as a conflicted, thus somewhat muddled, call to protect...more
Paige
Mar 25, 2012 Paige rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Paige by: library shelf
This book was published in 2004, so I'm sure there's a lot that could be added to update it.

The author's tone in the beginning part of the book was, as other reviewers have said, somewhat annoying or melodramatic, in that it made me roll my eyes a bit. I don't know if it disappeared as I continued to read, if I got used to it, or if she presented me with enough evidence to find that tone justified...

The author suggests "limiting" TV and such. Well...yeah. I guess the average American household's...more
Skylar Burris
Susan Linn's thesis in "Consuming Kids" seems to be: "If only we could bring those evil corporations and those evil Republicans to heel, your daughters wouldn't be dressing like skanks, racking up credit card debt, and eating nothing but frosted Pop Tarts for breakfast."

As a parent, I understand Susan Lin's concerns about consumerism and marketing to children. It's hard to be a true libertarian once you become a parent; no matter how much you believe in parental responsibility or personal respo...more
Kristin
This book is an intriguing look into the effects of marketing on children. Susan Linn make a solid case for a ban on marketing to young children and she does a great job of explaining why putting all the blame on parents is disingenuous.

The book can be a bit dry and repetitious at times. And, Linn's constant expressions of surprise at the lengths to which marketing firms will go to target children seem rather silly. I can't imagine anyone, particularly a child psychologist, living in today's wo...more
Jamie
No, it's not an hors d'oeuvre cookbook for cannibals. Consuming Kids is a book about the multi-bajillion dollar industry of marketing all kinds of things --clothes, hair care, food, violence, lifestyles-- to kids and teens. Now that my own daughter is old enough that I'm reasonably sure she's not going to die of SIDS or get carried off by a hyena, I'm starting to worry about these things.

While Consuming Kids deals with an inherantly interesting, even sensational topic, the presentation is actual...more
Stephen
To some, children are the joy of our lives; a refreshing source of curiosity, energy, youth, and joy. To others, they are nothing but grist for the mill. In Consuming Kids, child psychologist Susan Linn reveals the scope and consequences of the increasing commercialization of childhood, which effects more than just parents. It is a profoundly disturbing book; were I a parent its revelations would horrify me. But it demands to be read.

Consuming Kids opens at a conference in which children are the...more
emi Bevacqua
I went to listen to Susan Linn speak in person, she gave a great presentation showing first a home-made puppet - made from a purple sock with button eyes and a few strands of yarn hair. She asked the audience "what's the puppet's name?", "what is it?" and "what's it say?" Of course there were as many answers as there were people answering, depending on everybody's unique experiences, and ideas. Next she showed a mass produced horsey looking puppet and asked the same questions. This time answers...more
Heidi
I've had conversations with multiple acquaintances about marketing to children, and a lot of the people I've talked to seem to begin and end their side of the argument with, "If you don't like advertisers marketing to your kids, then turn off the TV." This book is a good explanation of why it's not that simple.

I've read a little bit on this subject in the past, so some of the information Linn presents was not new to me, but what really struck me about this book was her evidence for how delibera...more
Lize
Sep 26, 2010 Lize rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2004
Read in 2004, this would scare the wits out of any prospective parent. The author goes into great and highly sobering detail about all the ways kids are being sold violence, sex, soda, fast food, toys, cigarettes, and alcohol, with the grim aim of creating customers for life. You name it, someone is pushing it to kids--starting as babies. What's a parent to do? Linn offers a variety of ideas: for one thing, remove the TV from your child's bedroom--or, better yet, don't put one in there in the fi...more
Wendy
this is a powerful book!

it is a bit over-the-top at times, and tends to the melodramatic, but at the same time, the issues really are so grand and appalling, that you can't fault the author for it.

i also really wish she considered going "no-TV" or "no-media" as one of her solutions - i feel it's overlooked and yet totally obvious - like and elephant in the closet...
Tara
A must read for parents and caregivers. This book provides some insight into the devious ways marketers hook children and strain family relationships.

This is an interesting read. I would have liked more recommendations on how to speak to children about advertising and steer them away from consumerism. I understand the problem, now give me tools to deal with it.
Cynthia
Feb 11, 2008 Cynthia rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: parents who rely on TV for more than half hour a day.
I ended up skimming this... I felt lectured in a kind of negative way. While I agree with the premise and I resent all the relentless marketing aimed at kids. I even hate the characters on the diapers, but I also felt like it some of the information was skewed, using marketing lines to argue content, kind of cheesy.
La-Plume
An eye-opening book about marketing to kids. It's hard to compare it to France, it's been years I haven't watched any kid program however they're some things which are common between my country and the US such as stuffed toys made from heroes in adult movies, how over-sexualized young girls are today, or the way movies which rated for teens or even tweens are increasingly violent. There's a teen program I've watched recently which contained scenes so violent that I couldn't help but close my eye...more
Bill
Anyone who has kids (or may have kids, or knows anyone with kids) should read this book. I read it as an in-depth treatise on the morality and social and ethical responsibility of marketing...anything...to children.

The long-term damage done to young people (who grow up to be old people, like me) by getting them hooked on unhealthy food, alcohol, cigarettes is shocking. Hooking them on unnecessary consumerism is sickening and convincing young girls that they need to diet and be sexy and young boy...more
Adrienne
I read a lot of parenting books but if I could choose just one book for every parent in America to read, it would be this one.

Marketing to kids is at the root of pretty much all that is wrong with childhood: obesity, precocious sexuality, violence, disrespect for parents and authority, constantly staring at TV and computer screens rather than engaging in healthy and creative play. I could go on and on.

Honestly, when I first encountered Linn's strong feelings about marketing to kids, I was like...more
Arianna
This book took me quite a while to get through, partly because I didn't have much time to read in general, partly because it was the designated book I carry in my bag at all times (hence expecting to read it in little chunks), and partly just because it was really dense. I really liked a lot of what Linn had to say on the subject of advertising to children, but boy did she seem to say a lot. I felt that some of the material was repetitive or only slightly altered to say much of the same thing. A...more
Teresa
I've technically read the first addition which isn't listed here, so I had to choose this addition, disclaimer noted and delivered.

An expose on the marketing/advertising theology that views our children as consumers rather than human beings. As a child psychologist, Linn exposes the ruthless assault on children via marketing/advertising both in our homes and through our educations systems. Linn builds a convincing case by using a marketing campaign as an example, quoting spokespeople from that c...more
Jennifer
Dec 30, 2008 Jennifer rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents, grandparents, expecting parents, godparents
Predictably frightening for those of us who believe that materialism and consumerism are something akin to spiritual death. It's also interesting to read someone from a totally secular perspective try to explain why materialism is harmful to humans, and why we might try to promote the idea that sex is best suited for marriage. All sort of unnecessary qualifications like "I'm not a prude, but..." and "I'm not a stupid religious person, but..." Of course, Ms. Linn also has to engage in all sorts o...more
Annette
This book is naturally a very informative book. So it was dull at times with all the quoted studies, research and such. I am generally against the advertising to children so this book was more of affirm my thinking than challenge it. At times I felt the author focused too hard on a particular negative marketer. She really hates WWE, and while I am no fan of the show, I grew tired of tirade against it. At other times had things I enjoy attacked for their marketing efforts toward children. It cert...more
Kaye
I think it's an easy thing to just accept things the way that they are, especially since now, they've been that way for a long time. If you read this book, I think you will see that marketing to children is insidious, and much more damaging than anyone realizes. C'mon folks! Let's shake up the status quo, and just say "no more!".
Jessica
Aug 14, 2008 Jessica rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: non
I can't state this strongly enough: THIS IS A MUST READ by EVERY PARENT and person who works closely with children.

An honest and even disquieting look at how our children are being actively pursued by media vultures looking only for the profit, who have no interest in the development of our future generations. It's more than just turning our children into healthy little capitalists; it's more like a battle for their minds, bodies, hearts, and even their very souls against the astronomically well...more
Erica - Bonner Springs Library
This is an absolutely fascinating book about marketing and advertising geared to kids. Everytime I see a commercial geared toward kids it really catches my eye. The ones that get me are the tie-ins with the fast food places and toys for movies, such as McDonald's and Chicken Little right now. Another are the toys for little kids that are obviously geared to parents, one of the keywords that sticks out for me is "learning." Every toy seems to be a learning toy so that your kid can get ahead at th...more
Erica
This is an absolutely fascinating book about marketing and advertising geared to kids. Everytime I see a commercial geared toward kids it really catches my eye. The ones that get me are the tie-ins with the fast food places and toys for movies, such as McDonald's and Chicken Little right now. Another are the toys for little kids that are obviously geared to parents, one of the keywords that sticks out for me is "learning." Every toy seems to be a learning toy so that your kid can get ahead at th...more
Sarah
I definitely agree with the premise of the book--that advertising to kids has gone way too far and is raising a generation of materialistic, unimaginative children--but I'm finding the whole thing a little less shocking than I thought it would be. It doesn't have the impact of Fast Food Nation, which was chock full of horrifying details that I'd never heard before and made me stop eating fast food forever (except my beloved Subway).

I already knew that kids are assaulted daily with advertisement...more
Yvonne
An eye-opening read. I recommend reading this book and then watching the documentary (which is called Consuming Kids: The Commercialization of Childhood).
Christa Cordova
I have a love/hate relationship with this book. As I read through each chapter, I kept thinking "noooo ... this can't be possible!," but my marketing background kept leading me to the conclusion that yes, it is possible and the things the author discusses are happening. right. now. My only complaint, if you can call it that, is that the data in the book is outdated. It was published in 2004 and I hope either the original author or one of her peers updates it and republishes. I highly recommend t...more
Myra
Feb 08, 2014 Myra rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: nonfic
Interesting affirmation that the commodification and consumerism rampant in society is problematic from the youngest ages.
Lisalou
Dec 30, 2007 Lisalou rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: parents
So far it's interesting. I find her a bit "sky is falling" in her writing. Rendering parents unable to do anything about marketing to kids b/c they aren't to blame. I'm sure it gets better, I'm about halfway through. I have to wonder though how parents aren't to blame if there kids can recognize brands as soon as they can speak.

Update I spoke too soon. The rest of the book is really good. Explaining various things in terms of how a child would view it. The education as done by corporations part...more
julie
I would've really liked it, or perhaps loved it, as the heart of the story is that our culture's kids are being exploited. However, the author goes into great detail with concepts that we already know (e.g., cereal advertising is inconspiciously placed in movies, television shows contain an inordinant amount of junk food advertising, etc.), and she does it in a fashion that can be construed as overdramatic. Finally, her points could've been covered in half of the book size.

Overall, good book, go...more
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