“EEEEE!!! LOLs!!!” screamed two young girls at Toys R Us this evening.
I turned to their mom and said “I have no idea what an LOL is.”
“It drinks and pees,” was the response.
“So, a doll?” I reply.
Yes, a doll. This is what these girls ran up to:
I had no idea what they were. I still don’t think it’s particularly clear by their packaging either, but I digress…
So, with Little Miss asleep in the shopping cart (YAY!), I went on my merry way, wondering what the big deal was. However, I assure you that had she not been catching a few winks, she would have gone by these unassuming balls of dolls without so much as a peep. Why? Because she doesn’t know what they are, either.
We don’t watch much TV. We try our best to be a low media household. When we do watch one of her favourite programs (Paw Patrol, Berenstain Bears or My Little Pony), we watch it on Netflix or YouTube. We don’t have cable – we haven’t since we moved into our house 8 years ago. (Psst… We don’t miss it!)
We only watch TV on the laptop through Netflix (I’ll explain in another post why we did away with the iPad – and it’s probably not what you think), and because we don’t have cable, we’ve essentially eliminated advertising directed at her, thankfully.
But Liz, you said you also use YouTube, what about that advertising? When we used the iPad, we had the YouTube kids app, because the world of YouTube is so vast, and parts of it are quite dark. There are so many instances of videos that look like they are for children, but have very disturbing, disgusting context. I implore you to be vigilant when using it! However, since using the laptop, we only have access to the regular YouTube website.
Now, we very seldom use YouTube, and when we do, we sit with her. It’s so easy for the auto play to suck you in to the next video, so we do our best to avoid that black hole and quit while we’re ahead. Because the sea of videos aren’t at her finger taps (see what I did there), she hasn’t seen anything outside of the selected programs we watch together. Although there is some advertising, most of it isn’t necessarily directed towards children (car commercials or cereal), and I can’t think of a time I’ve seen an ad for a toy. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I think that most of the advertising on YouTube is done through… Those Darn Toy Reveal Videos!!! Dun Dun Duuuuun!!!
Oh my goodness. These are the most ridiculous videos I’ve ever seen. These, and those videos of children playing with toys. One mom commented that she bought her daughter a toy, and before she started playing with it, she went and watched a video of another child playing with it for half an hour first! Oy…
So, how did I research these LOL Dolls? I watched a toy reveal video, naturally (on my own). So, let me tell you a bit about this “hottest toy”. You get a ball (seen on the second shelf). It is wrapped in layers of plastic (garbage). As you peel back the layers, there are papers that reveal “clues” about what doll you have received. As you get closer to the centre, you get 4 bags (more garbage) with a 2 small accessories (think the size of your fingernail), an outfit, and finally, the doll (4 bags, after about 8 layers – plastic, plastic and more plastic). Seems wasteful, and silly, to me. And I’ll be darned if I want a whack of little doll pieces all over my house. Please see exhibit 1, the purpose of our voyage to Toys R Us in the first place:
Did I mention we have a dog? Anyway, as I was saying, I have no desire to have little things all over the house, especially with a newly cruising 8 month old crawling around. (I’m SO thankful we missed that whole Shopkin craze). Now, go back up to the first picture for a second. See the big gold globe at the top of the display? That there is an LOL Doll with 50 layers. Five Zero. That’s a lot of garbage. And, 50 dolls and/or accessories! Yee… Haw… And $100. It costs $100. $100!!!
Anyway, if you have ever found yourself with a child who is begging you for an item that you have never heard of, ask yourself how they heard of it. Maybe it was from friends. But, many of these “new crazes” get their footholds through YouTube and cable advertising (Hatchimals!). How many ads are children exposed to? The American Psychological Association states, “it is estimated that advertisers spend more than $12 billion per year to reach the youth market and that children view more than 40,000 commercials each year.” Read the full article here.
Personally, I think it’s important that we limit our children’s exposure to advertising, and encourage them to be content with what they have. We often read The Berenstain Bears books, and one of our favourites is Count Their Blessings, which addresses just that.