- For Teachers
Nags: Normal or Not?
The percentage of children that are watching television on a regular basis is at an all-time high. Children are led to believe that everything that they see and hear is true, and during televised commercials, companies are targeting them through exploitation. They offer false information on top of unessential products to persuade the children that they desperately need the items being sold. There have been a plethora of research projects conducted on the matter of children trying their fullest potential to get what they want. Nagging has proved to be the approach that most children choose to take. In the article, “Kid Kustomers,” Schlosser exposes various nags that children use to get their way, which inversely allows for companies to make a profit.
According to Kids As Customers, children are persuaded by companies through their commercials to such an extent that they are willing to nag, plead, and beg to get the products being raised on, what would seem to be, golden pedestals. James U. McNeal states, “‘All of these appeals and styles may be used in combination, but kids tend to stick to one or two of each that proved most effective… for their own parents”’ (46). Children use these condescending mechanisms on their parents to talk them into getting the products being praised on the television. McNeal classifies the practices of nagging into seven major categories: pleading, persistent, forceful, demonstrative, sugar-coated, threatening, and pity. Although children can choose to use any combination of these nags, the three mainly used nags are the pity, pleading, and threatening nags.
If a parent of a small child would think back to last month, last week, or even yesterday, he or she may recall his or her child asking for an item or a list of items as seen on television. The reason that children feel that they should ask for expensive toys, games, name-brand clothes, and specific foods is because they have been taught that they need them. The thought “needs are not for products; products are for needs” (McNeal 58) is what companies thrive off, and it is the reason behind the most effective nag: the pity nag. No parent would self-knowingly allow for his or her child to be ridiculed by the rest of society solely based on the clothes that they wear or the toys that they play with, and children know this. Some children use their parents’ unconditional love for them to their advantage by combining a cause-and-effect notion added with an emoted feeling of remorse. Parents will feel sorry for not fully providing for their offspring for two reasons: if there is a reason why their child seems deprived and if their child convinces them well enough. Even though a parent may recognize that the child needs some new toys or clothes, if a child gets everything that he or she wants, it sets a precedent. Falling into a child’s trap by giving him or her everything that he or she wants can result in the repercussion of constant nagging.
This generation of children was not born into this condescending nature of manipulation. There are plenty of times that when today’s adults were children used the most common nag, the pleading nag. The word “please” could never be used enough when pertaining to this type of nag because it is based purely on repetition. It “involves constant requests […] and may include [subjective] phrases” (McNeal 43). People can think back on an ample of instances when they had begged for the newest Barbie doll or coolest Hot Wheels car. This type of nag may seem to play off of a child’s innocence of simply desiring what they do not have, but there can be an underlying consequence. The thought that the act of constant nagging is acceptable holds the potential to trivialize the gravity of the very present danger revolved around a child’s will to get toys, clothes, or any item that he or she finds of interest.
Children all differ just like any other adult, and some children tend to display a more forceful approach when it comes to getting their way. This type of behavior, on top of the sales pitch from commercials, has proved to be detrimental because children can, and will, use any ways to inflict harm: blackmail, physical altercation, or running away. McNeal believes the seriousness of this nag, the threatening nag, varies based on the child: “the proneness of a child to exhibit these tendencies […] deal with themselves” (112). Usually, a child that is more self-inward would not use the threatening nags; however, the child may display closing themselves off from others or taking part in self-abuse. Even though someone may think that a child would not engage in the threatening nags’ activities, no child is left out of the equation. No parent should allow for companies to cause negative aftermath in the lives of his or her small child just because companies want to make a purchase by using children as their pawns. If it is obvious that a child is a serious candidate of using this nag, one should seek out other outside sources for help in limiting the use of the nag and any other future harmful actions.
The pity, pleading, and threatening nags are three out of the seven techniques that arise from companies’ persuasions in small children, and all of the nags carry their own weight of what it is like to experience a persistent child’s will to get what they truly desire. Each nagging tactic proves its effectiveness based on who is being targeted and the usage of the nags. Children implement the knowledge gained from their high-rate television exposure to target their providers, the parents; consequently, they learn which maneuvers work most efficiently in getting the products worthy of immense televised praise.
Works Cited PageMcNeal, James U. Kids as Customers. Lanham: Lexington Books, 1992. Print.
Scholsser, Eric. “Kid Kustomers.” 50 Essays. 3rd ed. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. Ed. Samuel Cohen. 353-358. Print.