The Impact of Materialism on Kids Nowadays

Logically explaining to our children the wants versus the needs in terms of material things has become a struggle over the years. The enticing advertisements that blatantly states "you'll look cool if you buy our product" makes it all the more difficult.

I don't blame the advertisers for presenting the product the way they do for the obvious reason that it is the sole purpose of their existence. As a parent, however, I am troubled by how much impact it adds up to the war against our children living in a culture of too much materialism.

I agree to a certain degree as to the advantages of when a kid's desire for a certain thing is aroused. Some use it as a drive to work hard in order to achieve the things that they want. But, when a kid sells a kidney for an iPad, that's troubling. Eventhough I have a fondness for the Mac products, I do believe that a little bit of humanity was lost in the invention of the iGadgets.

The Mommist

I have read an article from a local newspaper recently about a woman's material obsession turned into a nearly $12 million crime. This is a sad reality. The love for material things can easily lead to this. What makes it worse is when people equate a certain product with happiness or as a status symbol. Psychologist, Tim Kasser, discussed in his book (The High Price of Materialism) about how materialism affects our happiness and health. He found out that kids who spend a lot have less self-esteem and more anxiety.

I strongly agree with him on that observation. We have more than once experienced that kind of happiness when we buy something that we really like. The happiness is however short-lived for when the novelty wears off, we immediately move on the next. We constantly buy things to achieve that natural high that it brings. It is very addicting.

Unfortunately, no matter how much we want to not accept it, we (parents) are partly to be blamed. Our goal to give the best life possible to our children (beyond ours) has contributed a lot in terms of materialism. We want our kids to always have the best things possible. Birthdays, graduation, good grades, Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year, etc. means gifts...a lot of gifts. A lot of us have made that implied cue to our kids that the more expensive the gift is, the more we love them. I can not help but picture that scene where Dudley Dursley complained to his parents that he didn't love him enough because he got one less birthday gift compared to the year before. That's a major epic fail moment for a parent.

I doubt if this dilemma is exclusively subsumed to those parents that are least financially capable of giving in to their child's every material whim like me. This is not a case of who can afford to buy or who can't. This is about a child having the right kind of values. It's about how a kid views the importance of one product and subsequently, the lack of importance of certain products.

Some people would argue that the pursuit of  the superficial is not really something to be concerned about since children will outgrow the desire eventually. I doubt this very much. New products will always come out and this will continually add to a child's leisure pursuit. Once a child is well within the strong grasp of materialism, it will continue well into his adult life unless corrected. 

Years ago, when kids are asked what their goals in life are, majority would say such phrases as "to be a legend", "to be a hero", or "to save the world". Nowadays, you ask a random kid (I did) on the street about what his/her goal in life is and the kid will tell you "I want to have a BMW". I think it is time to call Houston 'cause we have a problem.

Thanks for viewing! 



  1. I agree. We have virtually no money to buy the latest fads for our kids. They are perfectly happy....until they get around the other kids around here. We live in a fairly high income neighborhood, but we live in a doublewide on land that has been passed down since it was my great grandparents farm. I find the sense of entitlement these kids have disgusting. However, the blame lays squarely on the parents who teach them bigger is better.
    Its hard explaining to my kid that he's not getting a cell phone no matter what the others have...he's 7

  2. Good points raised here. Children nowadays are more materialistic than ever. Probably 'coz there are more things to buy too compared to our time. I'm troubled by it as well.

  3. I don't know what to tell my daughter when she tells me to buy things that her friends have. It pains me to see her disappointed when I tell her that I can't afford them. I agree with you totally. Kids these days are very materialistic.

  4. Hi Kelly! Oh my! We were happy just playing with barbie's at 7! I agree with you. It's really hard to explain to your child that they can't get something just 'cause his friends have it. A tough job that is necessary. G'luck to us! Thanks!

  5. Hi Angela! Yeah, that's probably one of the reasons why. It still boils down to differentiating between needs and wants though.

  6. Hi Tricia75! It is painful for parents to not be able to provide their kids with things but those are just wants. As long as we provide them the needs (no matter how basic they are), then we're ok.


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