5 Ways to Protect Kids
Marketers want to hook your children on shopping. Don't let them
By Carolyn Bigda

(MONEY Magazine) – Kids as young as 18 months recognize product logos. That fact isn't lost on advertisers, who spend $15 billion a year pushing products and services aimed at children. Kids now watch an average of 40,000 TV commercials a year, and even McDonald's and PBS collaborate on brand promotion. Here are five ways to lift the siege.

TURN OFF THE TUBE On average, kids watch four hours of TV daily, with about 15 minutes an hour dedicated to commercials. It's not surprising that a 2001 Stanford University study found that children requested fewer toys when they watched TV less.

EXPLAIN THE AD GAME The ability to distinguish programming from advertising doesn't develop until about eight years of age. Help your children build a healthy skepticism by talking with them about ads or marketing tricks.

SKIP THE MALL Bright colors and store displays at kids' height are designed to incite nagging. If you have to shop with your kids, discuss in advance what you'll buy and stick to it. For teenagers, don't let the mall be a primary social activity or serve as family time.

BE A ROLE MODEL "Parents need to look at their own consumption," says Susan Linn, author of Consuming Kids, "because children learn through models." If you place a premium on having the latest styles, the largest house or the fanciest car, your children will likely share the same values.

LEARN MORE Talk with other parents about what their kids are buying or want to buy; check out sites like CommercialAlert.org to learn what is (or is not) being done to limit marketing to kids. —CAROLYN BIGDA