CONSUMING KIDS: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood

Susan E. Linn, Author . New Press $24.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-56584-783-5

Like Eric Schlosser in Fast Food Nation , Linn is able to write about a subject people care about and avoid the shrillness that can make such books a chore to read. A psychologist and children's advocate, Linn is openly critical of the corporate bottom line and focuses on what will benefit children and families. Her exhaustively researched picture is of a $15 billion industry in near-total denial about the effects it has. Executives traffic in transparently self-serving rhetoric, extolling the educational value of such seemingly bland fare as Teletubbies or claiming to be developing toddlers' incipient need for control. The concept of "prenatal marketing" need not be exhaustively described to send a shiver down the spine of any mother-to-be. Linn points out that successful marketing is often in direct opposition to what's good for society. Sex, violence and sugar-packed snacks obviously hold great appeal for youngsters, and there exists, he says, no countervailing social force to effectively check their influence. Linn demonstrates how marketers research methods to make children more effective naggers—thus undermining parental authority—and TV programming executives spike the chilling metric known as "jolts per minute." Linn works hard not only to put together a truly devastating case against the marketers, but also to couch it in the most reasonable terms possible; indeed, the entire book is really an appeal to common sense: that we as a society take better care of our children. Savvy enough to avoid sounding "like someone's old maiden aunt," Linn presents a socially conscious account that deserves wide exposure. Agent, Andrew Stuart. (May 6)

Reviewed on: 03/29/2004
Release date: 05/01/2004
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-4000-7999-5
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