Kasserian Ingera. I was at a science conference today and was introduced to this Masai greeting. The Masai tribe of Africa are well known as fierce warriors. You might be surprised to find out that Kasserian Ingera translates to “How are the Children?”  So instead of “How are you?” or even “Hello” they greet each other with “How are the Children?” They use this greeting even when they don’t have children or if the person they are greeting doesn’t have kids of their own. This greeting addresses the well being of all children in the tribe.

Wouldn’t it be remarkable if American culture valued it’s children to the point where the first thing they asked of friends, acquaintances, even strangers was, “How are the Children?” If someone were to ask me that question right now, I regrettably would have to answer, “Not too good.”

I received a documentary called Consuming Kids as one of my thank you gifts for pledging to my favorite listener supported radio station kpfk 90.7. This dvd brings to light the way U.S. media targets our children to be consumers from an early age. If you watch kid’s channels like Nickelodeon or Disney, it’s pretty obvious that commercials on those channels are trying to persuade kids to buy the latest, coolest toy. Nothing new. Until this day, I can still remember commercial jingles from when I was growing up. “My buddy, my buddy, my buddy and me…” “My bologna has a first name it’s O-S-C-A-R…”

Now I know that that was no accident. Consuming Kids examines how kids are purposely targeted to be lifelong consumers.  There are child marketing experts whose job is to do “whatever it takes” to figure out what makes kids tick.   Their goal is to cement their brand into children’s brains and ultimately have them loyally buy their products for life. This includes conducting focus groups where “experts” watch children interact with products and each other, putting kids through MRI machines to see which part of their brain lights up when stimuli (colors, shapes, music) are introduced, studying developmental stages of kids and tailoring commercials to make it more accessible to them. No wonder I’ve been a Coke drinker all my life and sneer at the thought of Pepsi.

Not only are our kids being taught at an early age to be consumers, but mainstream media is fabricating our children’s morals and beliefs. One product on the market sums it all up: BRATZ dolls.  You know those big headed dolls with huge makeup rimmed eyes wearing next to nothing outfits.

Is this how we really want our young girls to end up? The worst part is those dolls are being marketed to 4-6 year olds!! Yeah…So if we don’t start paying attention to our youth we’re going to end up with money grubbing, gold digging ME-bots who’s mantra would be, “You know it’s all about meeee!” Have you seen that show, Yay me London Tipton on Nick? Enough said.

There is so much information in this documentary that I feel ALL parents need to be aware of and would take me forever to go through it all: How media is making our children obese by promoting junk/fast food, promoting domination and violent attitudes in our young boys, how media is ultimately taking advantage of a child’s vulnerability to…dun du du dun…you guessed it again, MAKE MORE MONEY!!!

I found a link that shows Consuming Kids online. If you know me personally I’d be more than happy to lend it to you. If we make an effort to build awareness and educate ourselves and those around us our answer to, “How are the children?” would be, “They are doing just fine.”