Several weeks ago, my two younger children, Chloe, age 8, and Mac, age 10, came to me with the request to go to Toys 'R' Us. It seemed they had finally found the perfect use for the Christmas money that their grandparents had given them.
After stalling for as many days as I could (let's just say that Toys 'R' Us is not one of my favorite places), we arrived at the store. Within moments, they vanished down an aisle in search of the coveted toy. By the time I found them again, they each had an "electric" guitar and a guitar strap in their hands.
They explained to me that the guitars were called Paper Jamz; I, of course, had never heard of them. Nonetheless, they seemed to know all about these guitars. Not surprising since my children, like many children, love to watch the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, which are rife with ads for every new toy to come along.
However, what was really interesting about this whole episode was that my children had REAL information on the Paper Jamz. Chloe told me that although she liked the look of the style 5, she wasn't going to get it and had decided instead on style 18 (shown on the right). When I asked why she had decided against 5, she informed me that she had read the consumer reviews for the guitars, and the reviews for style 18 were more favorable. At this point, my son chimed in and said that he agreed. And besides, according to my son, the YouTube videos that they had watched clearly showed the superiority of style 18.
Amazing!! These were not two children who were merely going to the local toy store to buy the latest and greatest toy. They instead had become proactive in their purchasing. Had they been influenced by advertising? Certainly. But, were they passive consumers? Not hardly. They were now informed consumers. They had used resources within their means to research and investige a product before buying it. I would love to take credit for this series of events. I would love to say that I had actively modeled this behavior for them. But I can't. I can say though that I was really proud of them!