Harvesting Minds: How TV Commercials Control Kids

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Greenwood Publishing Group, 1996 - Education - 210 pages
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What happens when kids are held captive to an endless stream of MTV-like television commercials? Armed with a tape recorder, Roy F. Fox, a language and literacy researcher, spent two years interviewing over 200 students in rural Missouri schools. Why? Because more than eight million students in 40% of America's schools, every day, watch TV commercials as part of Channel One's news broadcast. Students read commercials far more often than they read Romeo and Juliet. These ads now constitute America's only national curriculum.

In this ground-breaking study, Fox explores how these commercials affect kids' thinking, language, and behavior. He found that such ads do indeed help shape children into more active consumers. For example, months after a pizza commercial had stopped airing, students reported that one brief scene showed a couple on an airplane. The plane's seats, students noted, were red with little blue squares that have arrows sticking out of them. Also, kids blurred one type of TV text with another, often mistaking Pepsi ads for public service announcements. Kids replayed commercials by repeating or reconstructing an ad in some way--by singing songs, jingles, and catch-phrases; by cheering at sports events (one crowd at a school football game erupted into the Domino's Pizza cheer); by creating art projects that mirrored specific commercials, and even by dreaming about commercials (the product, not the dreamer, is the star).


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I think that this book really tells the truth about what ads can make a person do especially your children
The children get manipulated by these people that are trying to sell things on the TV they are exposed to it that is why I love this book.


Kids and Commercials
How Well Do Kids Know Commercials?
How Do Kids Respond to Commercials?
How Do Kids Evaluate Commercials?
How Do Commercials Affect Kids Behavior?
How Do Commercials Affect Kids Consumer Behavior?
Conclusions and Recommendations
What Can We Do Right Now?
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Page vii - Most of what we know, or think we know, we have never personally experienced. We live in a world erected by the stories we hear and see and tell. Unlocking incredible riches through imagery and words, conjuring up the unseen through art, creating towering works of imagination and fact through science, poetry, song, tales, reports and laws — that is the true magic of human life. Through that magic we live in a world much wider than the threats and gratifications of the immediate physical environment,...
Page x - ... self-government. They make it possible to elect or select representatives to an assembly trying to reconcile diverse interests. The maintenance and integrity of multiple publics makes self-government feasible for large, complex, and diverse national communities. People engage in long and costly struggles to be free to create and share stories that fit the reality of competing and often conflicting values and interests. Most of our assumptions about human development and political plurality and...
Page ix - ... most of the first two. That creates a coherent cultural environment whose overall function is to provide a hospitable and effective context for stories that sell. With the coming of the electronic age, that cultural environment is increasingly monopolized, homogenized, and globalized. We must then look at the historic course of our journey to see what this new age means for us and our children.
Page ix - For the longest time in human history, stories were told only face to face. A community was defined by the rituals, mythologies and imageries held in common. All useful knowledge was encapsulated in aphorisms and legends, proverbs and tales, incantations and ceremonies. Writing was rare and holy, forbidden for slaves. Laboriously inscribed manuscripts conferred sacred power to their interpreters, the priests and ministers. As a sixteenth-century scribe put it: Those who observe the codices, those...
Page ix - ... that. One of the first machines stamping out standardized artifacts was the printing press. Its product, the book, was a prerequisite for all the other upheavals to come. Printing begins the industrialization of story-telling, arguably the most profound transformation in the humanization process. The book could be given to all who could read, requiring education and creating a new literate class of people. Readers could now interpret the book (at first the Bible) for themselves, breaking the...
Page x - ... cultural monopolies. The second great transformation, the electronic revolution, ushers in the telecommunications era. Its mainstream, television, is superimposed upon and reorganizes print-based culture. Unlike the industrial revolution, the new upheaval does not uproot people from their homes but transports them in their homes. It retribalizes modern society. It challenges and changes the role of both church and education in the new culture. For the first time in human history, children are...
Page x - ... superimposed upon and reorganizes print-based culture. Unlike the industrial revolution, the new upheaval does not uproot people from their homes but transports them in their homes. It retribalizes modern society. It challenges and changes the role of both church and education in the new culture. For the first time in human history, children are born into homes where massproduced stories can reach them on the average more than seven hours a day. Most waking hours, and often dreams, are filled...
Page ix - ... sixteenth-century scribe put it: Those who observe the codices, those who recite them. Those who noisily turn the pages of illustrated manuscripts. Those who have possession of the black and red ink and that which is pictured; they lead us, they guide us, they tell us the way. State and church ruled in a symbiotic relationship of mutual dependence and tension. State, composed of feudal nobles, was the economic, military, and political order; church, its cultural arm. The industrial revolution...
Page viii - ... are false, which they may or may not be, but that they are synthetic, selective, often mythical, and always socially constructed. Stories of the second kind depict what things are. These are descriptions, depictions, expositions, reports abstracted from total situations and filling in with "facts" the fantasies conjured up by stories of the first kind. They are the presumably factual accounts, the chronicles of the past and the news of today. Stories of what things are may confirm or deny some...
Page x - ... Channels proliferate and new technologies pervade home and office while mergers and bottom-line pressures shrink creative alternatives and reduce diversity of content. These changes may appear to be broadening local, parochial horizons, but they also mean a homogenization of outlooks and limitation of alternatives. For media professionals, the changes mean fewer opportunities and greater compulsions to present life in saleable packages. Creative artists, scientists and humanists can still explore...

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About the author (1996)

ROY F. FOX teaches at the University of Missouri-Columbia, where he also directs the Missouri Writing Project. He is the author of Technical Communication: Problems and Solutions (1994) and editor of Images in Language, Media, and Mind (1994). He has published numerous articles and chapters on thinking, visual/media literacy and culture.

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