TV/movie charaters all over childrens products

A child wakes up in his Disney character pajamas, rolls out of his Barney sheets, his toothbrush, toothpaste and perhaps even his soap covered in cute licensed characters. Gathering up his Pokemon cards and strapping on his Rugrats backpack, he heads off to school. (from a paper called Marketing to Children, 2007)

In recent weeks I have been shopping for a baby boy and for a young man of six.  Its been a while since I have shopped for young children as my sons are now 19 and almost 24.  Whilst in both the clothing section and toy section of Target something stuck me that wasn't as noticeable when my sons were little - the overwhelming influence of movies and TV on childrens products.  

Knowing that neither parent would want Ben Ten, Star Wars or Dora Explorer on their child's clothing or toy I really did have to search around to find things that were not covered in "advertising".   I even found much of the Lego were "scenes" from movies such as Star Wars.  I know when my boys were little we had lots of Thomas the Tank Engine and my youngest son loved "Brum" the car (as you can see in this cute photo of him), but it did not dominate childrens clothing as it appears to today (and personally I think Thomas or Brum were far more innocent and sweet compared to the current characters that seem to spend a great deal of time "fighting evil").

The modern child watches Ben Ten or Dora Explorer on TV, then hassles (nags) their parents to buy the clothing, toys and food within the movie product line. And it isn't cheap either, so some parents must be spending a fortune as every new film is released. For pre-teens and teens it is Twilight or Harry Potter (and don't get me started on these.)

If you don't watch these sorts of programmes/movies or simply want to avoid buying children's products covered in advertising, it really must be hard at times.  To me it is the world seeping into our lives . . .  and if we are not careful it can take over. 

Has anyone else noticed this growing move of TV/Film placement on childrens products?

Out of interest, what do you do if your child is given a toy or clothing that does have some sort of "TV/movie" picture on it?

Abstain from all appearance of evil.  
1 Thessalonians 5:22



  1. I hate this too, Jo. It really does make shopping for things a LOT harder. My children have received gifts with licensed pictures on them - like you, I don't mind some (Thomas the Tank Engine; Danny has a "Brum" shirt [I had no idea it was from a TV show/movie!]; Winnie the Pooh), but others are just silly. And of course we don't believe in letting our children obsess about these things, either. I've heard of kids who have a superman costume and their parents can't get them to take it off... I mean... How ridiculous! That is a classic example of a child usurping their parents' role, and it is very anti-Biblical.

    I think one of the dangers of allowing children to get into these things too much is that these are the kinds of things that fill the gap (for children) where GOD should be. And that is childhood idol worship.

    If someone gives us something that has any of the licensed stuff on it, and we don't approve of it, we explain to the children why we don't like it and then we donate it to charity or throw it out, depending on what it is.

    You're right, Jo - the Tween and Teen stuff is even worse (Twilight, Harry Potter, etc). It's been the same for so many years. Prior to the introduction of these "idols" for kids to worship, I think kids tended to be far more sensible and in many cases, far more responsible - because they actually grew up (IMO)!

  2. P.S. In Coles and Woolworths, it's often literally impossible to buy a kids' toothbrushes that don't have The Simpsons or Dora the Explorer or Superman or some other licensed picture on it. Frustrating.

  3. Clara - I have noticed that, even the paste has some sort of charater on. Bandages are another item. When you really start to look it is surprising how much is out there. And no one seems to mind :(

  4. Thanks Jo, I appreciate the "plain" clothes you sent for David! Can't stand all the stuff on kid's clothes either! I think Winnie the Pooh stuff is OK, but not so fond of Dora, or ANY of the boys stuff AT ALL!!!! =)

  5. We don't wear advertising at all. This was a rule of mine when my first daughter was born 10 years ago. It took a very conscious effort to do this, but now it is second nature. We skip over any cartoon clothes. Actually, we get most of our children's clothes at the thrift store or as hand me downs from friends.

  6. As a mother of a five year old...yes, and it is totally different from when my oldest (ages 28, 25 and 22) were younger.

    My father used to not let them up the dealers sticker on our car because he wouldn't advertise for free for them...and now we buy the clothes and advertise for free.

    My son loves to dress up for bed....he is a pirate, etc, but as for clothes...well baseball, football and trucks are dominate

  7. I so much agree with you. I greatly dislike to provide free advertising for these companies. Can't they just use flowers for girls and trucks and such things for boys? It is quite annoying!

  8. Mrs Q - they did once, my sons had trains and cars from memory, now that is almost impossible to find.


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