First things first – this blog is not about the method for creating the earth. This is about something a little bit more closer to home and which is of quite a bit of interest to me at the moment.
Last week during the half-term I got an idea in my head that my son (who is now about 7 and a half months old) needed some plastic balls to play with as well as some crayons which he could use to hopefully start drawing with. He is a bit of a way from walking yet but I imagined us sitting on the carpet batting a ball about. So I set off with him to a branch of a large multi-national toy company.
I’ve been to this store before so I know what it is like but in looking for just a simple ball for my son to play with and some crayons I did see the store and the products which were on offer in a new light. In particular looking for the crayons I realised very quickly just how extensively everything is branded and hooked up to a wider set of products. For example a crayon set could be bought which allowed kids to colour in a picture licensed from a popular animated movie. The logical marketing angle is that if the kid gets this set they may start pestering their parents for products featuring that animated movie’s brand.
What I am talking about is nothing new. Heavy marketing has been around for years. However I did notice one product which I think is the nadir of in your face marketing to children and that is a board game about popular brands. This to me is the ultimate conceit of product developers and marketers, sell a game which is obviously for family fun but make it about products they could be reminded about and obviously hopefully go out and buy.
This leads me to my title for this blog. We now live in a society where children and adults spend the vast majority of their time consuming but not creating. We consume our entertainment rather than making it ourselves. Yes it is still there in products like Lego but even many of their products are now heavily tied into broader brands. I remember my Dad once enjoying a rather thick book on solitaire games you could play with a deck of cards. That is pure creationism.
Although myself and my wife will not be able to completely excise these brands from our children’s upbringing but we will try and limit them as much as possible. I think the best way to limit their influence is to push alternative ways of having fun as much as possible. I think my son and his future sibling(s) should have access almost as much as much as they want to paper and drawing and painting stuff as well as a dressup box for running around as a pirate or an Indian.
My boy will hopefully learn that he should have control over his entertainment – not the other way round. Imagination must come from within, not the product of a marketing and product development team in an office somewhere far away from our home.