TV vs. Peer Pressure

by S.C. Torrington on February 17, 2007

hyperlux_2005_10_18_-_03Twenty years ago, when my older son, Dallas, was his half-brother’s age, it was all about brands: Nike, Powell & Peralta, Tony Hawk. And back then; working in the film biz, I could bankroll that mindset. I wouldn’t see him for weeks at a time, but when I did, I could buy his love.

Dallas was a solid public school student, star catcher on the baseball team, had alotta friends (some with whom he still keeps in touch). Happy, kind and well balanced. Now in his thirties, he’s living that urbanite hipster life-style I could never afford. And for him, brands still matter.

On the other hand, Morgan, my homeschooled rag-a-muffin, is clueless when it comes to what’s hip in clothes, footwear and gear. And that got me thinking about what’s the biggest influence on a child to adopt those values. I’ve concluded it’s not that Old Devil Television, it’s Peer Pressure. Here’s why:

M probably watches more TV than most kids. He’s bombarded with the same commercials on Nick and G4 and MTV as public school kids. But he’s just not interested. I’ve even pointed out ads for shoes or jeans and asked if he likes and would want to buy them. “No, thanks.”

Jez, I can barely get M to wear more than boxers at home. His socks, if he puts on any, only match through the laws of probability. When we shop for shoes at Wal-Mart, he looks for the right size, not designer, label. He prefers his WWE t-shirts and will pick between them if I offer him a choice. But most of the time, M puts on whatever’s on the top of the laundry pile.

In fact, on the way to a field trip, a fashion-conscious 8-year-old girl in our co-op even commented that M was wearing the same T (The Undertaker vs. Kurt Angle) he’d worn to the previous outing. “So?”

What does influence children to latch onto labels? I’m certainly no clotheshorse. The only difference I can see in upbringing is D lived with his classmates’ judgment every day and embraced it. M is confronted only on rare occasions, and when he is, couldn’t care less.

Granted, if he’d been a girl, hormones might win out, even over homeschooling.

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