Part 2 in Tuned In’s piggyback-on-Alice-Park’s-stories series: McDonald’s owns your child’s brain. If you saw Morgan Spurlock’s documentary Supersize Me, you probably remember the creepy scene in which Spurlock’s unscientific poll found that kids were more likely to recognize a picture of Ronald McDonald than one of Jesus Christ. Now researchers at Stanford have found that children as young as three have already internalized McDonald’s advertising.
As much as some parents are apparently concerned about keeping their kids from sex and violence in pop culture, I worry much more about keeping the Tuned In Jrs. away from commercials. Given their father’s job, we have a more technically elaborate marketing-defense perimeter than most: we watch commercial-free networks like Noggin, use DVDs and thanks to TiVo, have made a game out of skipping ads in the commercial programs we do watch. Even at that, my kids–who hardly set foot in Mickey D’s except on road trips–recognized the Golden Arches early on. There’s just too much environmental marketing to avoid. The only thing that saves us from the siren call of junk food is the Tuned In Jrs.’ reliably picky food preferences: they only like McDonald’s for the toys.
At risk of turning Tuned In into Babble, this is another one where I’m curious to hear from the parents in the crowd: how do you keep your kids away from ads? Or do you believe there’s any point in trying?