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Material Girl And Boy

For example, there is an "anti-adult bias" in the commercials.

"It's important to recognize the nature of the corporate message: Kids and products are aligned together in a really great, fun place, while parents, teachers and other adults inhabit an oppressive, drab and joyless world," Schor says. "The lesson to kids is that it's the product, not your parents, who's really on your side."

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There is the practice of "trans-toying," or turning everyday items into playthings.

"Child development experts worry that this trend leaves little space for imagination, as every item in the environment becomes a toy," Schor writes.

How many times have you heard your kid say, "I'm bored." What he or she really means is: You need to buy me something that will entertain me because I can't possibly be put upon to be creative.

Schor concludes that kids who are overly involved in the values of consumerism become problem children.

"The prevalence of harmful and addictive products, the imperative to keep up, and the growth of materialistic attitudes are harming kids," she says.

People -- parents -- are under siege. And what's at stake isn't just a depletion of our assets to buy what our kids are brainwashed to believe they need. What's at stake is the well-being of our children.

Advertisers and marketers are turning our children into materialistic monsters. And sadly, we are aiding and abetting the enemy.

We let the enemy into our house when we allow our children to watch endless programming surrounded by a steady stream of messages that communicate they aren't worthy -- a somebody -- without certain products.

We deliver our children to the enemy every time we choose to entertain them by shopping.

I hope "Born to Buy" will motivate you to fight back, because our children -- my children -- weren't born to shop.

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Michelle Singletary discusses personal finance Tuesdays on NPR's "Day to Day" program and online at www.npr.org. Readers can write to her at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071, or send an e-mail to singletarym@washpost.com. Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note that comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

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