Most parents agree that marketing unhealthy or emotionally harmful products to children is not acceptable. But it’s not always clear where to draw the line. For example, is it OK to aggressively market LEGOs to kids?
My son loves LEGOs. I played with Tinker Toys; he plays with the plastic building blocks from Denmark. The company has produced over 400 billion of these little bricks. My son’s favorite LEGOs include the Star Wars co-branded LEGO sets, like the X-Wing Starfighter or Millennium Falcon. He can build LEGOs alone or with friends for hours. Personally, I’m fascinated with the universal instruction booklets—post-modern IKEA-style illustrations without any words. And somewhat taken aback by how expensive LEGO sets can be.
How are LEGOs marketed to kids? Consider the giant traveling LEGO expositions held around the country. Called LEGO KidsFest, here’s how the one to be held this weekend in Novi, Michigan, is described on the Pure Michigan blog: This event brings all of the creative hands-on, minds-on fun of LEGO building and experiences together in this three-acre activity- and entertainment-packed family event for children of all ages and builders of all skills and interests. The LEGO KidsFest is a highly interactive experience covering over 150,000 square feet of space. The event includes LEGO product-based activities as well as activities that can only be had at the LEGO KidsFest.
Videos of past KidsFest expos convey intensity, fun, energy, and excitement—just the kind of environment that appeals to kids.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I like LEGOs. I buy them for my son. I’d rather he play LEGOs than video games. My wife is thinking of taking him to the event this weekend. But, at times I also wonder:
Is it too much?
Is it wrong to worry about profit motives behind such wildly successful events?
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Originally published at www.OurValues.org, an experiment in civil dialogue about American values.