We live in an artificially and materialistically induced society, where children believe they need IPhone’s and IPad’s, this and that gadget.
Preteens are starving themselves, sixteen-year-old girls are getting nose jobs and breast augmentations. Adults are doing drugs and drinking heavily to subdue the pain and stress they feel on a daily basis to be able to afford their luxuries. Unfortunately, with the media having such a powerful influence on the youth and elders alike, the crime rates seem to increase and the truly educated become a minority. Thoreau said “Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things.” (Economy.72)We live in a very superficial world today, and the entertainment and marketing industries feed off the weaknesses of the masses.
Sincerely speaking, I believe that if people did not spend so much of their time envying others for what they have, we would live in a much more educated and peaceful society. Thinking about the question “How are children influenced by materialistic desires?”, I am genuinely astounded by how enormously the answer of a 10 year old in 2000 compared to an answer from a 10 year old in 2007, and then again compared to a 10 year old in present day 2014 differs. The child from the year “2000” probably has a Nintendo or PlayStation connected to his television, and maybe he had a handheld GameBoy if he was lucky, but he most likely spends his time playing outside without a care in the world if his best friend’s family has a million dollars in the bank, or fifty dollars. Then we have the 10 year old from “2007” (the year I turned 10). The GameBoy (1989) and the GameBoy Advanced (2003) had already been established in much earlier years, as well as the handheld Nintendo DS which made its debut in 2004.
In 2007, 10 year old children began to have cell phones. I remember the popular phone that my peers carried around in 4th and 5th grade was a Motorola Razr flip phone. They carried portable music players, such as the IPod or a Sony Music Player. These devices also gave children a loophole into unprotected or unmonitored internet access. PlayStation Portable Devices and Nintendo DSI became popular, and now kids had a whole new reason to “want”, “want”, “want”.
Now, in 2014, I have a 9 (almost 10) year old brother who opens my eyes to what it is like being a4th/5th grader in this point in time. Just 7 years later, and we have touch screen Android and Apple cell phones. I have both seen and heard about children much younger than 10 who personally own one of these phones. We have tablets now, and more advanced computers. Children as young as 10 years of age have complete and total access to the internet and what is has to offer.
After reading a rather dense article published by the American Psychological Association, I have a better understanding of how a child may be effected psychologically by the influences of the internet. Our materialistic world teaches children and teenagers that it is “ok” to defy your parents, to lie and cheat, steal, to bully. Watching videos on websites like “Youtube” and “Vine” that may have explicit or rude content involved could influence a young child to imitate what they see or hear. When kids are hearing music with lyrics consistent to that of a “F*ck B*itches, Get Money, Do Drugs”, naturally the person listening will first grow accustom, then potentially be influenced later on.
In a hypothetical situation, a 10 year old girl or boy who has total internet freedom decides to make a Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram account. They come across a page on one of their social media platforms that is labeled “Thinspiration”. If you are not already aware of what this is, the Urban Dictionary definition for “Thinspiration” is interpreted as “an image, quote, etc. that inspires you to be skinny or ‘thin’ no matter what the costs”.
A 10 year old kid might see this page, go through each individual quote and photographseeingtiny waists and collar bones, abdominal muscles and “fat-shaming” words of “thinspiration”. This could really leave the child feeling differently about their body, now seemingly aware of what the “world” expects from them. This case-scenario works with other forms of influential websites, not just Pro-Anorexia/Pro-Bulimia/Pro-EDNOS. Using the same situation, you could change “Thinspiration” to “Drugs” or “Booze” or “RAVE” and it would have the potential to cause the same effect- not just to a 10 year old, but to a 16 year old or a 30 year old. “Men have become the tools of their tools.” Thoreau certainly must have know what the world was in store for.
However the case, we have always been pawns to a much bigger game. When I say this, I do not mean that we are being used by God. I mean that we are the puzzle pieces, the playing pieces of a chess game that the higher power controls. Each situation has its own version of a ‘higher power’. Money is what ultimately controls our society.
Money is the reason why materialism even exists. If there was no value to a materialistic item or cause, then it would not be considered materialistic. A materialistic lifestyle would typically be described as fake. Money has value because it is rare, but exchange currency is constantly changing as the rate increases or decreases. Money controls our lifestyle, to a certain extent.
It is through our compensation that we find interest to work, and through both legal obligations and materialistic desires that we spend our wages. Materialistic living takes away from the personalization of human contact and communication. People have become so accustom to denying phone calls and replying with a text message instead, or simply choosing phone calls to avoid in-person conversation. We live on our phones, theoretically speaking.”Apps” or phone applicationshave taken over our little personal worlds. There are apps for just about anything.
We now have online shopping which allows us to stay at home, or use our phones to buy items instead of having to go to a store and deal with real people. Rather than having to go into the bank, we now have the option of drive-thru banking and ATM’s, even online banking is available for most chain banks. Amy Langfield from CNBC wrote an article on “Today: Money” about the materialism of today’s teenagers. According to her research, today’s teenagers are more materialistic, but far less diligent nor motivated in their efforts to acquire what they so greedily desire. During the teen years of those born in the Baby Boomer generationhad much more of a work ethic than teenagers today, but according to a recent study, their generation is also held responsible for producing a culture that fixates itself on demanding entitlement. I certainly agree with Langfield on this, there is a certain sense of entitlement that teenagers in today’s society believe that they are to have, and it is rather sickening to think about.
With apps like Pintrest or Instagram, you have complete access to the world of envy. Humans have a greedy nature already, so if Betty sees a photo on Instagram of her friend Margret, posing with her parents who just bought her a new Mercedes Benz for her 16th birthday, naturally Betty will be envious and want that car or something like it. Betty is going to expect her parents to buy her a car for her 16th birthday. Marketing is the ultimate way for producers to push their product on to their willing prey (err, I mean) consumers. With a flourish of the wrist here, and a glamorized ad there, people flock to be the one with the next hip item.
That is why advertisements work in the first place: people are so easily influenced. Social media is a very useful tool that companies use indirectly to get their product noticed. As of October 3rd, 2013 Facebook had 500 million users, September 9th, 2013 Instagram reached 150 million users, and according to Business Insider, Snapchat just exceeded 30 million active users. Most companies from all types of industries use one or all of these media sites to target new clientele and to maintain past customers by feeding them special offers and other things using media. Many celebrities and athletes are sponsored by clothing lines, food companies, magazines, electronic services, etc.
These celebrities and athletes have a developed fan-base who want to be just like their idol, and they will pay the money and buy the products that are shoved in their faces. Madonna had it right, we are really living in a material world. Money is the most important thing, and if you don’t have it, you pretend like you do. Living paycheck to paycheck, racking up debt in credit cards and loans. There is always a pressure to “Keep Up With The Joneses” and it becomes difficult to handle it all.
In the movie “The Joneses”, they show how the new family who seemingly has everything moves into town and everyone they meet is drawn to them. They want to be just like them. They want to have everything that they have, and more.I think that the fact that the writers decided to have Larry, a neighbor of the Joneses, commit suicide from the stress of all the debt he managed to burry himself in. Unfortunately, this movie properly portrayed a very explanatory and accurate view on what society has manifested itself into.
Thoreau said “Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.” and I agree with him on this specifically, one-hundred percent. We are way too attached to our materialistic lifestyles, and almost unwilling to give them up. The housewife is effected differently than the working woman, and both of these women would differ from a man. The children of the household are also effected differently by the materialistic spectrum of our world, and all of this difference really makes it difficult to decide whether or not living in a materialized world is wrong. I believe that it becomes wrong to live materialistically when it is really that you are creating an exterior facade.
If your actual living conditions are poor, you have a low income, and you are piling up debt in credit, I believe that you are wrong to be trying to fit in with the trending material world. However, if you are responsible with your money, have worked hard to develop a higher-class life, you should be free to live like an upper-class person. Materialism should be based upon work ethic, upbringing, and responsibility rather than greed, desire, and ignorance. Works Cited: Langfield, Amy. “Today’s Teens More Materialistic, Less Likely to Work Hard, Study Says.
“TODAY. CNBC, 2 May 2013. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. A.
Jackson, PhD, Linda, and Frank Biocca, PhD. “Children and Internet Use: Social, Psychological and Academic Consequences for Low-Income Children.” Http://www.apa.org.
American Psychological Association, 1 Dec. 2003. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. Norwich.
“Do We Control Money, or Does Money Control Us?” Welcome. Transition Network, 18 May 2011. Web. 2 Dec. 2014. “Millennial Marketing: Living in a Material World.
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