Monday, November 14, 2011

Children are trapped by Materialistic Culture

I remembered my mom gave me 50 sen (15 cent) every day for my school snack (lunch). With 15 cent, I could get a bowl of noodle soup or the popular Malaysian food, Nasi Lemak. Throughout my years of childhood life, we didn't have fancy electronic gadgets or crazy for branded goods. We lived throughout the typical childhood life like socializing with friends at the playground, biking or playing with dolls. Unfortunately, children these days live different childhood lives compared to what we had been. My friends told me how their children, barely reaching at 4 year old and some of their children at elementary schools (primary schools) have begun demanding for iPads, iPods, iPhones, smart phones and even filling up their wardrobes with expensive and branded clothing similar to what their friends have. There are some teens demand for their own new and expensive cars the moment, they get their driving licenses. It is pressuring and becomes shocking to the  parents when children perceive these material goods as necessities due to  great pressure and competition among their friends. 

A year ago, there was news reported that a Chinese girl from China offered her virginity in exchange for an iPhone 4 while  a Chinese boy sold his kidney for 22,000 yuan ($3,400) in the black market in order to purchase an iPad 2. Another shocking news arise in Singapore recently where a 14 year old school girl slapped her mother, stole her mother's S$10,000 (US$7,756) jewellery and pawned it in order to buy a Louis Vuitton wallet. Some of the young working adults also believe that the material goods are necessities hence, they are willing to spend their entire salaries and savings on branded and fashionable goods and the latest gadgets. The young generation (either children or young adults) do not understand and appreciate the hardship of their and parents' earning money. Sociologists blame the rising importance of materialism amongst the young generation and their belief have gone beyond their limits to satisfy their desires. To improve stable and healthy family culture,  parents should balance their work and family life by spending more time and showing their parenting skills like communication and participating with their children in their world such as role playing, reading, involving in outdoor and school activities. It's also crucial to teach children about the values of life rather than exposing them to materialistic culture.

Yahoo! UK and Ireland compiled and reported their research on today's children and teens rely heavily on material goods in order to be fit in their friends' circle and society.

Children unhappy without material goods

Children unhappy without material goods

Forget the penny sweets and a peashooter. It seems today’s children feel they’re “materially deprived” if they don’t have an iPod, the latest branded trainers and a family car.

In the latest sign that 21st century consumerism is impacting our kids, a study by The Children’s Society found youngsters rely on material goods to make them fit in and feel ‘normal’.

Children aged between eight and 15 were quizzed about the ‘essentials’ of life for someone their age.
A list of the ten ‘must-have’ possessions was then drawn up – including iPod, pocket money, family holidays, a satellite TV, garden and “the right kind of clothes”.

After surveying 5,500 boys and girls, researchers found that those children lacking two or more of the items were “significantly more likely to be unhappy” than those given everything they wanted.

And those without five or more of the ‘must-haves’ were five times more likely to have “low levels of wellbeing”.

It is the first time children themselves have been polled about what they see as deprivation.

Despite their apparent obsession with material goods, however, The Children’s Society says the survey shows children value family togetherness during days out and holidays, and that their happiness is as much tied up in these events as it is in trendy possessions.

The charity’s chief executive Bob Reitemeier said: “Too often we try to understand what it means to be poor from the perspective of parents and ignore the children. For the first time, this research asks children themselves what they need to live a normal kind of life.

“It shows that many children are missing out on normal, everyday things, like pocket money, or trips out with their family. Children have shown us they have a clear idea of what makes them happy, and those missing out on these items are much unhappier than their peers.”

The items most needed for children not to feel deprived were, in order:
  • Some money you can save each month
  • A garden at home or outdoor space nearby
  • At least one family holiday away from home each year
  • A personal music player
  • Monthly trips or days out with the family
  • A pair of designer or brand name trainers
  • The right kind of clothes to fit in
  • A family car
  • Cable or satellite TV at home
Pocket money was the item the children were most likely to be missing out on, with more than a third (37 per cent) saying they did not receive it and 22 per cent saying they missed having it.

This was followed by family trips or days out, with 25 per cent saying they did not have any and 18 per cent saying they missed them. Children similarly felt the lack of ‘some money to save each month’, with 18 per cent saying they had none but would like some.

An iPod and a family holiday each year were the next two things children felt the lack of most sorely.

A spokesman for The Children’s Society added: “It is not all materialistic. There is lots of stuff about wanting to spend time with their family and playing.” He said only one ‘possession’, a personal music player, appeared in the top five items children were found to be missing out on.

The charity said the research showed traditional measures of poverty, such as household income, the number of adults in paid work and receipt of free school meals, might not be the only predictor of children’s unhappiness but that their own sense of wellbeing and material deprivation ought to be considered.

The study, undertaken with the University of York, also shows that ‘materially deprived’ children might not necessarily be living in households conventionally classified as poor – meaning political measures designed to address child poverty could be missing a large tranche of society.


No comments:

Post a Comment