We all seem to hate them. We all seem to tolerate them when we have no choice in the matter. We all seem to complain about them, yet we can sit through one without ever blinking an eye, or missing a heart beat. I am talking about the television ads, the commercials, the 15 minutes per 60 minutes of television entertainment that bombard us with massages to buy-buy-buy!
I have a friend who lives in a wonderful home with his lovely wife and two small children. My friend, who ask that I not mention his true identity on my site, went to college with me before he graduated in a degree in, you guest it, communication. His wife is also a well educated person with a degree in economics. Together they make for one heck of a team when dealing with social issues such as mass advertising and media. You need to be a fly on the wall at the dinner table.
Like most Western families today, the television is the pulse to the outside world for them, especially for their children because they love their Saturday morning cartoons. When Mom and Dad are not around, with a flick of the switch, on goes the T.V. The kids have in their arsenal of entertainment, many DVDs and books that are very neatly lined along a shelf that is strategically placed at just the right hight for them to pick through when they are up hours before their parents during the weekends.
I have know my friend and his family for several years now. His children, daughter five and son eight, have always seem like normal kids to me—normal in the scenes that they do what all other kids do best—they go through their growing stages. So I never really paid to much attention to what really goes on during these “free times” for the kids until last week when I was visiting—very early—to sort out some books I wanted to buy for myself.
As I was going through the boxes of books, stuff like old textbooks and other academic scribes, I noticed that the television, radiating an episode of Sponge Bob, seem to play continuously unabated. It took me a full episode to realized that not only was the cartoon recorded, but it had the commercial edited out. So I told my friend who replied to me that he and his wife spend a few hours per week recording the episodes onto their P.V.R.. They then change the programming, with software, as they cut all the commercials out and leave the cartoons as if the video was one long segment.
Wow! I thought what a bunch of work. So I asked the question why?
“Simple” he said, “we noticed when our daughter turned five, that she started going through a phase where whenever she was out shopping with us at a store she would continuously plead for certain items. It got to the point that I had to take the kids back to the car while my wife finished the shopping. I mean, it was so obvious what was going here—she clearly wanted something that had being advertised on the television, and we were powerless to over rule her needs. That is when we started to fight back by pre recording everything onto the P.V.R and then editing out the commercials When we finished for the first week, we used our channel blocker to cut all the channels that would show kids cartoons and set the P.V.R to play in a loop—simulating a television channel. It worked on the first week, and we’ve kept it going ever since.”
I was amazed at this level of determination. He claims that several other parents on their block have started the same procedure with their P.V.R.s. However, not all P.V.R.s allow you to edit out the commercials. He says that there are several web sites that show you how to use software and external hard drives to help combat “this social demon.” There ought to be laws that target kids with commercials—parenting would become so more easer without the ads.