KGOY! WTF?

Now, I like a nice acronym as much as the next overcommitted parent. Look at the time they can save us. In the time it would take us to say, ‘Piss off early, tomorrow’s Saturday!’, we can trill, ‘POETS!’, slide out from behind our desks and be halfway downstairs and on our way to Tesco.

So, yes, BOGOF (which has the inestimable plus of sounding a little bit rude), BLT, TTFN, ROFL – all these and more have a place in my sad, trying-to-maintain-veneer-of-youth vocabulary. But KGOY? Never (apart from this post, of course). For a start, it’s really hard to say but the real problem with KGOY (can’t stop typing it now … you see how invidious it is?) is that it’s a nasty invented concept made flesh through the machinations of marketing and advertising execs whose whole raison d’etre is to manufacture desire as a means of parting us from our hard earned cash.

KGOY stands for – brace yourselves – Kids Growing Older Younger. It’s basically a plot to rob our children of their childhood by making them targets for highly sophisticated and targeted marketing campaigns, so that we feel pressured to buy them stuff that was previously the preserve of adults. And it extends to everything. Cos once they have mobile phones, ipods and PSPs, they can hook up with their friends and drink Baby-ccinos at globalised coffee chains, yak about their awful problems with their parents (who won’t buy them the stuff they really, really need), get prescribed Prozac, have cosmetic surgery, worry about their weight, go to gigs, choose designer clothes …. and on and on.

If you think I’m exaggerating, take a look at this, from the Advertising Educational Foundation. Cos they actually teach people to do this to us and our children.

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25 thoughts on “KGOY! WTF?

  1. Crippity crap crap.

    First, I loved this post and that picture. Second, bugger.

    The ramifications of this are staggering. One of my worries about my children is that I will, since I am deeply out of step and always have been (although now happily so) that I will inflict my outofstepness upon them and thus condemn them to years of miserable playground experiences. But if the world thinks for one second that I will allow the adult world to fling itself upon them any earlier than necessary, then I will bloody well move to the steppe and herd yaks.

    Well, not really, but you take my point.

    Grr. Argh.

  2. Love the picture too.

    That is so incredibly scary, I don’t even know where to begin. My son is only 2, but the idea of someone or “marketing” attempting to drag him into the adult world in the next few years makes me mad as hell. And scared.

  3. I actually read recently in the great intelligent mother writers’ book of essays Because I Said So about KGOY. I couldn’t believe it either. It’s rather depressing … My 5-year-old son goes to school with a boy carries around his own cell phone, hair pomade stick to keep his spike stiff all day and a tennis racket. He says he’s hoping to get sponsored for a children’s tennis tournament. Sounds serious. Maybe too serious for a little kindergarten kid.

  4. It’s a horrible thought, but inevitable when you think how ‘consumerist’ our society is. We work now so we can buy “Stuff” like designer vases and a handbag to match every outfit. Do we need these things? No. But we are being trained to want them. And this is especially so at Christmas. Run out to the shops NOW and buy lots of Stuff for everyone you love. Because if you love them you’ll get them Stuff.

    When I had babies and our income dropped, we stopped shopping for pleasure. And we don’t allow the kids to watch advertisements as far as possible. We are a marketing firm’s worst nightmare.

  5. I am willing to pay for pay tv because my kids don’t have to see advertisements that way.

    the second they see an ad on commercial television they turn to me with the “i want” “can i have” requests. It makes me want to puke.

    Is it wrong that my eight year old can explain to my two four year olds that the ads they do happen to see are mostly lies?

    Is it right that she can do so from experience, having been allowed to spend pocket money on things the ads told her she “needed”, only to find the objets terribly disappointing in reality?

    good post!

  6. This doesn’t surprise me in the least but it is up to us to make a stand, and not let our kids persuade us to buy them the crap they don’t need.

    Bec I have been telling my kids ads are lies since they were tiny, but I think getting them to buy something they have seen is a good idea to demonstrate the point.

    I also hate the way our children are overtly sexualised – particularly little girls. See your three year old looking like a tart, doesn’t it make you proud? And then in the same breath worry about paedophiles round every corner….

    It’s a mad world.

    And the ONLY weapon we parents is have is the ability to say NO and turn the tv off.

    Having said all that there is a worrying development in the UK with children’s advertising which is rightly going to prevent food advertisers selling our kids junk food. Hear, hear I hear you say, and with my mum head on so do I. BUT…. there is going to be a huge knock on effect with children’s tv not getting the revenue it needs to produce good quality entertainment. My lot mainly watch the output on the Beeb cos it is much better. But ITV has produced such gems as My Parents are Aliens and the gloriously surreal Don’t Eat the Parents. And the Beeb themselves say they want the competition. So what we’ll end up with is the worst of all worlds – our kids will be watching crap cartoons/or inappropriate older programmes because there is no longer decent stuff aimed at them. And there will also be a knock on effect into children’s publishing which relies heavily on licensed deals/books appearing on screen etc. I can see the need to control the advertising, but the knock on effects could be disastrous.

    Jane

  7. i took a quite deliberate decision to make my children look for the tricks and the subtext in adverts when they were still quite young. do you remember ‘pokemon – gotta catch em all!’? i remember explaining that it was a ploy to keep kids buying those awful card packs in which you got 4 you already had and maybe one new one – and there was always a really rare one that everyone wanted. i also predicted that there would soon be another something or other that you had to catch all of … sure enough, along came digimon. from then on the kids have been pretty media savvy for their age … although they still get taken in from time to time – as do we all! (you should see how many moisturisers i’ve got!)

  8. Several weeks ago I let the boys watch Go, Diego, Go on NBC. Usually they watch shows on DVD or public broadcasting. After the theme song, the show jumped to a commercial: a happy, nuclear, middle class family travelling in their brand new minivan while watching Go, Diego, Go on the minivan’s dvd system.
    I was livid.
    Bad enough to have adverts in the middle of a children’s show but to use the show’s characters to sell crap – that’s dirty pool!
    Hurrah to all the muthas who posted above about raising media savvy children. I’ll be following your lead.

    PS – Danger Boy is in love with the “moose-tashed” baby. Very cute.

  9. This is truly an epidemic! I find this idea to be most heinous! Dear friends of mine, God love them- they are so stupid, are falling victim to this on a daily basis. I see them buying cell phones, slathering makeup on their 10 year old girls, and taking them to get their hair done (AT A SALON) for a sixth grade homecoming dance. I ask you, what business does a sixth grader have even going to a dance! And people wonder why kids are having sex at younger and younger ages! I have already told my 8 year old daughter that she is a child. As such, she is to enjoy being a child and save the other stuff for when she gets older. I suppose it is good I have strong shoulders, so I can brace for when it is all my fault that she is not popular! I think I can handle it! Love your blog!

  10. I admit to being a teensy bit obsessive about not letting my kids watch tv adn esp. tv commercials for this very reason (they can watch movies, but that’s it).. It is scary how well the advertisers know our psyches.

    Thankfully, nothing competes with bad-ass mommies like us!

    UGH

  11. First off, that photo had me howling with laughter and I choked on my tea and wound up spitting it out on my pyjamas and now my lap is damp. So thanks for that.

    Second, it’s unconscionable how The Corporations are willing to turn our children into ‘target audiences’ and ‘demographics’ in the name of aggressive commerce and advertising strategy.

    I’ve been knocking my head against the keyboard trying to come up with a clever acronym to adequately convey my thoughts on the subject, but it’s late, I’m tired, and I’m failing.

    Instead let’s try a giant Piss Off, Soulless Advertising Scum.

    POSAS.

    I suppose we could pronounce it like “Posers” which would kind-of-sort-of work…

    Aaaaaaaaand now I’ve hijacked your comment section. Sorry about that.

  12. I’m glad to see that parents are aware.
    I used to be angry at the “progress” the world has made and the way parenting, advertising and communication had changed…until I looked in the mirror and saw my mother…until I heard my parents’ words come from my lips.

    T.V. (or other neo-appropriate device) will rot your brain!!

    Easy Bake Oven! Swell, now they’re gonna get us on mini-cake mix refills and tiny kitchen accessories.

    Allowed to use a calculator at school?! Now you’ll never learn to use a slide rule and will never amount to anything.

    My point being. It’s their generation. I’m glad I had the wisdom of my parents’ guidance, and will offer mine to my own children, but just because I’m not prepared to handle the onslaught of cultural change, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be. I no longer try to hide or protect them from the “strange changes”, but try to help them develop a sense of morals and ethics despite them.

  13. Sorry if this is an inappropriate place for this question, but there is no email address for contact.

    Here you asserted:

    fighter pilots father a higher proportion of daughters than any other profession

    Do you have a reference for this fact?

  14. I do wonder how people whose job it is to make tiny children be more greedy, insecure about their appearance and/or more easily subject to peer pressure can sleep at night.

    Bear in mind that I am myself a lawyer, so I have a season ticket to the annual evil professions ball.

  15. welcome toyfoto – i’ve enjoyed your blog v much and am glad to see you here!
    karyn – i’m unforgiveably pleased about the wet pyjamas – that’s the kind of nasty person i am! love POSAS!
    fighter pilot question – there are lots of references to this research but nothing conclusive. took me about 5mins to find this:
    http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=55513 but there may be better sources. i don’t remember where i read it first.
    ah – hello, moobs! indeed, they must drink a shedload of horlicks!

  16. otj – scared you good and proper, didn’t i? but did you click through to the article? brrrrrr! now THAT’s scary

    jenny – definitely not! cos if you are, then i must be too. i sometimes feel like i’m living dog years, mind you. one for normal people feels like seven for me. i have yet another theory, actually, that slots into kgoy with all the ease of a slotty thing. lo – i even have an acronym: gurfag (grown-ups refusing to age gracefully). what we have now instead of the responsible adults is an amorphous legion of merrell-shod, combat-wearing, crop-topped, snow-boarding, latte-quaffing, gel-headed, botoxed saddos, clutching blackberries, texting each other like billy-ho and getting down with the kids at gigs and festivals. i mean – what does a kid have to do to rebel these days? it’s everso abfab! but i’m right in there with the worst of them. tragic, ain’t it?
    min – good point, btw (sorry, i got carried away)

  17. Sometimes I’m glad not to be in the know about these latest “marketing trends and targets” as it is DEPRESSING reading! As you say, another way to sell us stuff. The commercialisation of speed ageing; what next? Can I just also say I find this whole Bratz phenomenon appalling (I’m assuming these tarty like dolls are everywhere around the globe). I don’t want my 8 year old (Oh, hang on it’s now 5 year olds with this KGOY OMG!)looking like a prostitute! It’s just wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Love the issues you raise here. Blog on!

  18. Nutmeg, I agree with you so much about Bratz, I think they are foul and make Barbie look a positive role model for girls. But… Given that I have four girls it was inevitable that they would somehow find their way into our house. And do you know? It is a strange thing but actually they play with them very imaginatively, and have wonderful games that go on for hours. So it’s not all bad. And I am hoping that in the end the Bratz (which they think are beautiful!!) will go the way of Barbie… ie, they’ll start playing Drown the Bratz in the bath, or decapitating them. All our Barbies are now headless and footless. Bratz have a footstart in that department as you can swap their feet.

    MMs did you want to email me from my blog/website? I can’t work out how to email you!

    love Jane
    Who Really Is Going To Stop Blogging Now and Do Some Work!

  19. nutmeg n jane – my daughter, too, has been won over by the siren lure of bratz, but i’m hoping the fact that you need to pull their feet off to change their trousers may act as aversion therapy to dissuade from her ever adopting their (frankly) whoreish style.

    spm – FK! ISID! (f*** knows! i’m sure i don’t)

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