Consuming Kids

The Hostile Takeover of Childhood

A shocking exposé of the $15 billion marketing malestrom aimed at our children and how we can stop it

With the intensity of the California gold rush, corporations are racing to stake their claim on the consumer group formerly known as children. What was once the purview of a handful of companies has escalated into a gargantuan enterprise estimated at over $15 billion annually. While parents struggle to set limits at home, marketing executives work day and night to undermine their efforts with irresistible messages.

In Consuming Kids, psychologist Susan Linn takes a comprehensive and unsparing look at the demographic advertisers call “the kid market,” taking readers on a compelling and disconcerting journey through modern childhood as envisioned by commercial interests. Children are now the focus of a marketing maelstrom, targets for everything from minivans to M&M counting books: All aspects of children’s lives—their health, education, creativity, and values—are at risk of being compromised by their status in the marketplace.

Interweaving real-life stories of marketing to children, child development theory, the latest research, and what marketing experts themselves say about their work, Linn reveals the magnitude of this problem and shows what can be done about it. With a foreword written by research psychologist and author Penelope Leach, Consuming Kids is a call to action for parents, educators, legislators and anyone who cares about the health and well being of children.


“A splendid book—a call to arms for parents today. Consuming Kids lays out the ingredients of a fight back, giving control to parents and their children. Our children as consumers are being consumed. We can and must take back our parental roles in this media battle.”
—T. Berry Brazelton MD, professor Emeritus of pediatrics, Harvard University
“Linn presents a salient, substantial, and worrying case. She shows how children’s daily lives have been trespassed on evermore by brand names and images. As useful as it is serious, this book is necessary reading for parents in particular.”
—Alissa Quart, author of Branded
“At last a book that provides the data, the arguments, and the passion that can be mobilized to end marketing to children. Susan Linn is a hero of our times.”
—Howard Gardner, author of Changing Minds
Consuming Kids outlines, with considerable passion, what we must do to protect our children from becoming prey in an out-of-control culture of commercialism. It should be read by every parent, policymaker, and professional who works with children.”
—Alvin Pouissaint, M.D., professor of psychiatry, Harvard Medical School and Judge Baker’s Children Center
“This book is a powerful warning and wake-up call about the obvious and subtle ways our consumer culture is deliberately sending messages to our children that are shaping their lives.”
—Marian Wright Edelman, president, Children’s Defense Fund
“Barbies for three year olds? Advertising junk food in middle schools? If you’re thinking marketing to kids has gotten out of hand, and are wondering what to do, this book is for you. Susan Linn, one of the nation’s leading opponents of the commercial exploitation of children, has written a compelling and compassionate critique of today’s ‘what will they think of next’ advertising environment, and provided a road map for taking back the culture of childhood.”
—Juliet Schor, author of The Overspent American

Books by Susan Linn

Who’s Raising the Kids?
Big Tech, Big Business, and the Lives of Children

Susan Linn

The Case for Make Believe
Saving Play in a Commercialized World

Susan Linn

Goodreads Reviews