Brainwashing Children

After watching The Manchurian Candidate and reading Timothy Melly’s “Brainwashed! Conspiracy Theory and Ideology in the Postwar United States” I began contemplating the issue of brainwashing in our society. The idea of brainwashing was introduced to the United States during The Korean War, but was certainly not confined to that era. In fact brainwashing is still a huge part of American culture, especially commercial advertising. Although we all are victims of brainwashing through advertisements, children are undoubtedly one of the biggest targets. This is mostly because children are highly impressionable and easily manipulated. 

 The video, “The Corporation: Advertisements Targeting Children” shows how children use nagging to get their parents to buy them various products. Companies are able to brainwash children to buy their products by showing the same commercials repeatedly during children’s programming. The more the children are exposed to the products, the more likely they will want the products and nag their parents to buy them. For instance, while watching a movie on the Disney Channel, a child may say several commercials for the Bratz Dolls or Hot Wheelz. Commercials also make their ads very colorful to appeal to children and maintain their attention. Companies also have flashy logos or catchy songs to force these young consumers to remember their products. There’s a reason why children remember Oscar Mayer bologna instead of Boar’s Head bologna. Another method that is particularly effective is associating the product with a character that children like. Children are more likely to want to eat macaroni and cheese that is in the shape of Spongebob Squarepants than regular elbow macaroni. Children might even argue that it tastes better.

 When children see these products, they fuss and throw tantrums until they get their parents to finally give in and buy the products. Then the cycle starts over again. In the video, Professor Susan Linn says, “It’s not that products themselves are bad or good. It’s the notion of manipulating children into buying the products.” There are some great products out there for kids, but if the ads are not played constantly, or are not visually appealing, the kids will not want these products.

 Brainwashing children to buy merchandise is a long way off from brainwashing men to be assassins. However, if the children do not eventually learn to be educated consumers, they could potentially become mindless zombies who are unable to think for themselves. 

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5 thoughts on “Brainwashing Children

  1. I remember as a child watching tv shows how i would be influenced greatly by how certain ads would come up and i would instantly want something that a little while before i had not thought of whatsoever. and even nowadays i will be reading a magazine and think wow i have to buy that mascara that they are telling me will make my eyelashes look prettier or the shoes that will make any outfit look good. but when it comes down to it, as an adult you can make your own choices, but as a child you dont have enough common sense to know you dont really need that. but advertisement takes advantage of a childs low need for cognition and they abuse the power that they have in knowing this about children. and so parents are not only themselves targeted by ads in magazines and tv, but they are also seeing their children being used as drones in order to get them to buy a certain toy and make money for a company. its really unjust, especially when they do it on channels that are made especially for children. i wish there was a way to cut down on time alloted to these companies on tv and other ads. but money talks so as long as its this way they will get as much time as they need to “brainwash” children.

    • It’s really a shame the way companies take advantage of children. Children are not able to interpret ads the way adults can because their cognitive levels are not as advanced. Kids think that these ads are credible when in fact, that might not actually be the case. I wish there were stricter regulations for advertising to children. I guess, the only thing we can do is teach kids to question the validity of advertisements. That’s probably more easily said than done.

  2. Awesome post! I think it’s necessary to occasionally remind ourselves how much we’re brainwashed by media. I feel that it makes us more conscious about how susceptible we are as simple human beings.

    I know for a fact that most of the toys that I have ever owned would probably not be in my possession unless I nagged my parents about it. Now that I think about it from a parent’s perspective, I’d rather shower my kid with tons of toys than take them to Disney World. Going to Disney World is simply an experience; it cost thousands of dollars and you only stay for a few days. Then when you get home, the kids start nagging you about when you’re going back to Disney World.

    Unfortunately, money does talk. I don’t foresee any changes that would cut down on time allotted to such companies that advertise their products. Media will continue brainwashing people; the best we can do is to say NO.

  3. One solution, limited the amount of TV your child watches. I only do movies at night and then no commercials are present.

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