Although nowadays people live in a culture of consumerism, not everyone understands the degree of the difficulties and problems it causes and the impact it has on people’s lives and their relationships with others. Shaping the way of their lives, it causes misunderstandings between friends, family members, and, it is hard to find compromises because of its rapid spreading. Since children are not able to filter information on their own, consumerism also became one of the reasons for the constant conflicts between parents and their kids. Solving these struggles is not an easy task, so parents have to not only find ways to resolve them, but also help their children realize the real essence and the aim of the concept mentioned above.
The level of consumer involvement by kids influences their relationships with their parents and relatives. The research shows that consumerism affects children both in direct and indirect ways. First of all, the new advertising strategies can create an “utopian” world for children where their parents become their enemies. The reason for these fights is that with each day, children are more and more involved with the media while their parents try hard to prevent it and become an obstacle in their way of attaining goods. The position of the so-called wall between their children and the media world does not play in parents’ favor and spoils their relationship with the kids. It also happens when the parents buy hundreds of things and gifts to appease children or to pay off; however, such actions have only negative consequences. This way children will understand that they can easily manipulate their parents and get what they want; over time, they will also become spoiled and very naughty.
Besides, the deterioration in family relationships leads to depression in children. As a result, they feel anxiety, lower their self-esteem and well-being in general (Pascal). Even without noticing it and having practically no choice, since it is impossible to avoid advertisements, the Internet, and social networks in the age of rapid IT development, children suffer much more than adults. Thus, they do not notice the subconscious pressure and need the help and guidance of the elders. However, materialism changes peoples’ characters in the wrong way very much; it decreases happiness, joy, pleasure, and satisfaction, and develops selfishness, greed, and antisocial behavior. Kids can be easily influenced, and that is why they are increasingly falling under new advertising strategies (Friedman). Every child continually asks his parents to buy new things and toys, which are the best and the latest on the market. The problem is that all his new best things become old very fast and as far as new items are invented and advertised, he starts nagging his parents to buy them. These manipulations begin with the typical requests and supplications and end with the horrible hysterics. However, if the parents refuse to buy something, they immediately become the enemy number one for them.
Apart from turning children into being impatient and greedy, consumerism also increases their envy, indifference, and cruelty. Nowadays, the kids are ready for everything only to get what they want. They resent, rebel, and break things on purpose to get new and desired ones in return. The saddest thing is that they are even ready to threaten, fight, and clash with peers, thus trying to take possession of someone else’s thing. Accordingly, cruelty brings cruelty, and this chain does not end but only spreads and develops. Still, sometimes, it is the parents’ fault that their children become self-centered and have no moral values, although they may not even notice it. Nowadays, life has become hectic and stressful; people work twenty-four seven and do not have time for their children. Feeling guilty for that, they buy and give the kids everything they want to make them feel better, which leads to an inability to sense gratification for parents and gratitude for children. Parents also take their kids to different classes and clubs, wanting them to have the right values, although it is hardly possible. If they do not spend a lovely time together and do not put these values into practice, everything they have done before becomes at risk (Barton). Thus, it has a very negative impact on all family members; to prevent it, parents have to live by example and teach their children from their toddlers to help and share with others and take part in different social events and activities.
Moreover, even adult conscious people are easily manipulated by advertisers. Subconsciously they start to draw in their heads pictures of the perfect life and people around, but they never find them because they do not exist. Peoples’ subconscious is trained to think like a consumer, and they apply it not only to material things but also to their relationships with other people. Consciously or subconsciously, everyone has a list of criteria that their close people must meet. If their expectations are not justified, they either continuously have conflicts and fights or end the relationships with those people at all. These psychological techniques are portrayed in movies, literature, and songs and unnoticeably leave a mark on our outlook on life. As a result, if a few years ago people were experiencing together even the most difficult times and finding compromises in different situations, nowadays they are ready to disperse and escape from each other even because of minor quarrels or uncertain circumstances.
Besides that, consumerism affects the parents’ subconscious mind in the way that they do not want their children to feel worse or more deprived than their peers. People cease to be true to themselves and try to create an image of a prosperous and happy family. In pursuit of this fake happiness, they miss the real one and all the joyful family moments. Usually, it results in conflicts and misunderstandings between partners. One more example of being influenced by advertisers and the outside world is the fear and need for living a socially acceptable lifestyle, which nowadays is enormously expensive. This idea is imposed on them by social networks in which they see perfect pictures of other peoples’ beautiful lives. Accordingly, they feel worse and want to become somehow better, prettier, smarter, or happier; they also want to seem more exciting or prosperous to others. Even the most essential life events, such as a wedding, graduation, or birthday parties, have been converted into the showy promotional events. Things like an ornamental dress or expensive suits, luxurious accessories, and the amount of food and costly alcohol on the tables have become more significant than peoples’ inner feelings and their state of mind.
Coming back to the theme of consumerism, which makes children feeling deprived, it is essential to mention that it is increasingly making more and more children feel miserable and unhappy. It is extremely dangerous for the children’s psyche to see the other kids having the things they, sadly, can not get or their parents can not buy them. Consequently, they have a feeling of insignificance and depression, and there are even cases when children cause significant harm to themselves or, worst of all, commit suicide. Admittedly, this problem needs to be addressed as soon as possible. Besides, when it comes to the influence of consumerism on the relationship between the married couple, it often causes misunderstandings and disputes, and it is especially evident in crises. Both men and women can have different hobbies and, accordingly, buy different things they think they need. The problem is that the other person may not share these interests and not understand why to spend money on such matters. Consequently, conflict ignites, and relationships get bad. Although for some couples, these situations do not affect their relationship, they reconcile, and everything goes well; but there also are those who even get divorced over time. However, everything has its advantages, and such situations check relations for durability, teach and develop the couple. Even such minor cases play a significant role in the relationships and leave a positive or negative imprint.
Yet, wrongly prioritizing or buying up everything they see in advertising, later, people have to start saving. Again, economic pressure hurts them and decreases their qualitative time together. Not having enough money, they can not go anywhere with the whole family and have fun and a great time together. The thing is that close loved people should spend as much time together as possible as it makes their relationship even better and stronger. Similarly, consumerism encourages debts, as to meet the expectations of others or to show off, people are ready to take immense loans. After celebrating a particular holiday for just one day, people have to pay off their debts for years. Lately, they have to deny everything they need or want not only to themselves but also to their kids. It is doubtful that a brief moment of uncertain enjoyment is worth further life for a long time without pleasure. Such situations require conscious behavior and rational thinking with listening to the pieces of advice of loved ones.
Furthermore, some people wrongly believe that they can show how much they value someone or relationships with them by spending money and buying services and presents for them. Though, happiness, or love cannot be purchased for cash, no matter how hard the advertisers are trying to convince people in the opposite. Communication technologies and virtual conversations also profoundly influence the couple relationships in their way. From the outset, their goal was to make it possible for people who live far away from each other or work long hours to communicate. However, over time, things have changed, and people started to pay more attention and spend more time with their devices than with their beloved ones. Nowadays, it is tough to find some time for the family, but, unfortunately, in the modern world, virtual communication almost totally has replaced the real one.
Yet, it will be wrong to say that consumerism is unambiguously harmful as far as it teaches people to distinguish material values from spiritual ones. Besides, shopping is not only spending money on different things people may not even need, but it may be called a social event and is also an excellent way of bringing friends or families and spending time together. Additionally, it teaches to be a conscious consumer, think rationally, and prioritize as it is a challenging task to be continuously surrounded by thousands of marketing messages, product billboards, and television commercials, and not to succumb to their influence.
Besides, one of the pros of consumerism is that it stimulates people to work and earn more, and as a result, the economy grows. If people need more services and goods, then businesses and companies have to work harder to meet those needs. It forms a never-ending circle of producing, buying, and selling things. Subsequently, more job positions appear, and finally, the food, clothes, homes, and the overall level of life increases. Another advantage of consumerism is that it makes the manufacturers produce safer goods for customers. In modern society, knowing their rights and wanting to provide a better life for their families, purchasers can compare and select the best products among many others that may seem similar and have the same price but different quality.
Finally, nowadays, consumers are given more choices in every field of life. People can eat better food, ride more luxurious cars, live in well-equipped houses, and get whatever they want if they are ready to pay for it. Their lives are getting better with each day, and they can provide their children with all the best and the essential items they need. Whatever it is, everything has its pros and cons. Still, it all depends on the people, their thinking, beliefs, values, perception of the world, and the way of life. They can be guided by other peoples’ thoughts, stereotypes, or their feelings, but the primary and most important thing is that they remain themselves and that they and their families are satisfied and happy.
Pascal, Laurel. “Children’S Well-Being: The Effects Of Child Consumerism At The Child Con-sumer”. Sites.Middlebury.Edu, 2015, http://sites.middlebury.edu/thechildconsumer/childrens-well-being-effects-of-child-consumerism/.
Friedman, Jenny. “How Consumerism Undermines Your Child’s Well-Being – And How To Fix It — Doing Good Together™”. Doing Good Together™, 2017, https://www.doinggoodtogether.org/dgt-newsletter/how-consumerism-undermines-childs-wellbeing.
Barton, Adriana. “Consumerism Is Creating Cunning And Callous Kids, Therapist Finds”. The Globe And Mail, 2014, https://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/parenting/consumerism-is-creating-cunning-and-callous-kids/article18913979/.