Whose Choice Is It Anyways

Swapna Mirashi
Have you ever been nagged by your 3-year-old into eating junk at a fast food joint because of a special toy that comes with the meal? Has your 4-year-old outwitted you in negotiations for a ‘princess themed birthday party’ costing thousands of dollars? Did you ‘have to’ buy an iPhone for your ‘tween’ just because all her friends have one? Have you asked your 12-year-old for an opinion on a brand of car to buy, and then actually bought that brand? Have you gifted your teenager the power of credit card yet?


There is a lot that has changed over the last few decades.

  • Money has become an abstract concept – Credit/Debit cards, E commerce- earning, shopping, banking and investing.
  • Easy Access – to Money, Information/ Media, Loan
  • Access and convenience of shopping – no pause button and no room for second thoughts   
  • Wide Choice – Lot of options/ opportunities (often leading to confusion, guilt and pressure)
  • Media Frenzy – Young people view more than ever, ads on television alone. Then there are video games, educational apps, events even schools allowing brand placements.
  • Kids Getting Older Younger – KGOY – a new marketing term to describe the influence of youngest children these days on family’s purchasing decisions and their brand knowledge.

Not only are children being exposed to money earlier, they are influencing big purchases – choice of holiday destinations, subscriptions – a phenomenon that is encouraged (if not initiated) by profit-seeking marketers but we all are a party to.  

“Kids are spending more & more money but understanding less and less about making good financial decisions. The outsized appetites created by aggressive marketing during childhood and adolescence quickly sink kids into deep financial trouble when they start living on their own”. – David Walsh, author – NO! Why children of all ages need to hear it and ways parents can say it!

Advertisers and media companies are taking a serious note of this. They are spending millions of dollars in money, time and effort every year in studying our children, our children’s behaviour, the way to influence our children’s preferences and their weaknesses, so that their products, their merchandise find a permanent place in our child’s bedroom, playroom, dinner plate, lunchboxes, and our child’s mind – aspirations, hopes, dreams and cravings – with a view to influence our little consumers. They are finding new ways to enter our child’s psyche and ultimately reach our wallets today and our children’s wallets in future.

We, the parents cannot be caught off guards. We need to educate ourselves and our children about proper use of our resources to our best advantage and not to the heavily promoted idea of ‘LIFE’ emerging from market profit motives and media frenzy.

Each of us needs to figure out and help our children figure out what is our real idea of ‘my kind of life’, lest we run a risk of treading the line to the life as defined by the custodians of consumer culture, eyeing our money with least interest in our or our children’s well being.