September 2008 - Vol. 22

Distract. Seduce. Addict.

Modern marketing promotes addictive behavior in youth

By Mike Shaughnessy

Have you been in a restaurant, meeting with someone, and found a television distracting you from your conversation? Has your eye ever been technologically seduced to go where you didn't want it to go? Did your mind follow? Do you have a compulsion for the internet, watching sports, a particular television show or playing a video game?

Marketing strategy is fairly simple. First, distract youth from what they should do, are doing or intending to do. Second, seduce them into doing what the marketer wants them to do (normally something that fattens the marketer's wallet) and third, addict them to doing it over and over again. Pornography, gambling, gaming, music, watching TV.

Modern marketing promotes addictive behavior and then seeks to gain more control over those they have addicted.

Jason Kapalka of the game company PopCap was asked, “Do game developers design games to be addictive?” His answer? “Yes, totally. That’s the main goal.”

Distract, seduce, and addict – and they are getting better at it all the time.

Wise Parenting
  • Visit an online social networking site: Club Penguin if you have young children. Otherwise visit Facebook or MySpace. Ask your children to show you their pages.
  • If your son or daughter has a video game, play it with them.
  • Check out YouTube. Your kids have.

[Mike Shaughnessy is an elder in The Servants of the Word and the Director of Kairos in North America. Kairos is an international federation of outreaches to high school, university and post university aged people.]

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