Children are growing too fast, period. For a while, it was something to scoff at or roll our eyes about. It seemed pretty innocent at first, with a few brand name companies offering children’s lines. But there’s more to the story.
Kids growing up fast is really about the generation gap it leaves behind. It’s the whole “Grease” spoof – kids are crazy and rebellious, parents just don’t understand. It used to start in the teen years. Not anymore. Pre-teen pregnancy (yes, PRE-teen) is on the rise, youth depression and alcohol and drug abuse is reported more often than ever in history, and suicide rates are at all-time high among very young tweens and teens. More and more disconnected families are falling apart. It’s time we really took a critical look at how the media and pop-culture is affecting our kids when it comes to growing up. Young children are trying to live ‘teen’ lives, parents are allowing it, and we’re paying the price.
Kid Culture is the new coin phrase. It’s all about creating your image through the consumption of a multitude of ‘stuff’ starting in the baby years with brands marketing clothing and name-brand products to infants and toddlers via their parents.
These days, innocent children are being pushed into a category the marketing world coined “tweens” as young as age eight.
EIGHT. What many parents don’t understand is, the whole concept of ‘tween’ culture bubbled out of the greed of several business execs. Looking at trends in teen spending on things like clothing, accessories, and electronics, the ‘big guys’ figured they could make a lot more money if they got young kids hooked on consumerism at an earlier age. About a decade ago, we saw the ‘tween’ market explode for the typical 12-13 year olds. But that wasn’t good enough.
Companies pushed for younger and younger crowds, sucking up every last penny out of a mindless materialistic society willing to buy anything the world said their kid just had to have. So now, it’s normal for girls in second grade to bug Mom for a push-up bikini and skinny jeans. And it’s normal for young children to worry endlessly about what they wear to school and whether it will be ‘cool’ or acceptable to their peers. This is normal. And it’s normal to consume. All the time. Whatever makes you feel ‘good’. Whatever helps you create yourself. And millions of kids are growing up believing that they are what they buy. What kind of adults will these children be? Where are we heading?