TV Commercials: They Work, and They're Evil

The DVR is a wonderful invention. I control what I want to watch and when. I zip through commercials. That's right, it's a commercial-free zone at my house, all the time! Mad Men would truly be maddening (not to mention ironic) if I had to sit through the ads. Well, hallelujah! I don't. For my little ones, I program my DVR to record only the most edifying, "preschool-on-TV" shows.

But here's the rub: My kids are too little to control the remote. Without the ability to fast forward, they are watching commercials. And the commercials are giving them ideas.

My five-year-old, Isabel, recently advised me to purchase the Bissell, because our vacuum cleaner is much too loud. Then she and her three-year-old sister, Lily, conned my husband into letting them blow 60 dollars worth of Target gift cards on 9" bath toys called Swim to Me Puppies. (Our tub isn't big enough for two kids and two 9" tall bath toys, but the puppies broke pretty quickly, so that solved that problem.)

And the other night, Isabel told me she wanted a Snuggie. Yes, that Snuggie -- the blanket with arms. The blanket that people buy because they're unaware of an invention called flannel PJ's. The blanket that people buy because they got suckered into buying it. "Why, why, why would you want that?" I demanded. "Because blankets slip off you, and you get cold again," Isabel replied. The basic sales pitch from the TV commercial.

About three weeks ago, The Nielsen Company released its latest findings about kids and TV viewing. Here's a snippet from the report: "One of the more surprising pieces of research from Nielsen shows that in DVR households, younger kids are watching far more commercials than older kids -- more than every other TV demographic group. Nielsen says kids 2-5 see 50% of commercials in DVR playback."

Is there a solution here? You can ban TV. You can watch it with them. Or, I suppose, you can teach them how to use the remote.

Now, where is that remote, anyway?

Do your kids watch commercials? Chime in below!

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