Propaganda is as old as visual media itself. From the sculptures of esteemed leaders, paintings of kings, and posters designed to influence public support for World War II. Throughout history, corporations/governments have been able to skew the minds of people through art – and they are now targeting children.
Manipulation has escalated with the advent of cinema. Beginning in the 1950’s, big corporations have been able to systematically enter the homes of gullible Americans. The mystical box known as television has held all of the world’s answers for years.
We’ve all experienced it, the bright lights, entrancing music, special effects and a personal connection to the events occurring on screen. We have become a generation of zombies in a trance like state, glued to a box. Yes, a majority of us can still find joy in outdoor activities and engaging in real life social situations. However it has become evident that the upcoming generation is more disconnected than any before it.
Children are targeted most by advertisers in the form of media manipulation. They influence what parents spend most of their money on; Lavish family amusement parks, toys, movies, gadgets, video games and junk food. In her recent image series entitled “Idiot Box”, photographer Donna Stevens captures the intense hypnotic state of children glued to the screen. Stevens aims to explore “the co-dependent yet contradictory relationship we all share with technology and the media .”
Photos property of Donna Stevens.
Nature Valley is using their media influence to create a positive change. In their latest ad campaign they compared the favorite past times of three different generations:
Entertainment in moderation is understandable, but these habits are beginning to effect the health of our youth. The American Psychological Association has attributed food advertising towards children as a main stimulant for childhood obesity in America. Children under the age of six are unable to distinguish the difference between different advertisements. Familiar characters and catchy tunes ingrain into their young minds and unconsciously manipulate them to want certain foods. Children’s requests have made a big impact on the purchasing decisions of the average parent. (source)
There is no questioning the artistic achievements of television, films, online games, etc. Educational programming has also made wonderful strides in increasing the knowledge of young minds. But at some point, parents must draw a limit. Through Stevens’ project, she asks parents the following question – “How much screen time is beneficial to children’s’ learning and imagination, and how much is too much?”
This is a question we should all be asking our children today.