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Modern living often leaves us with more money than time. Add the Internet, advertisements and peer pressure, and we end up with a lot of young people who have difficulty distinguishing between needs and desires. Of course, they have the ability to understand money matters, but they still need guidelines.
Even if it seems like they are growing up faster than any other generation before them, teenagers are still developing the basic attitudes and perceptions that will form the basis for life-long consumption patterns. It is often at this age that teenagers find their first jobs and start earning an income. Their goals are not typically to save or to invest for long-term financial security. For the most part, parents are still taking care of their teenagers’ needs and are still assuming responsibility for most of their purchases.
For young teenagers, though, earning money means acquiring purchasing power. Now they can buy the things that used to require their parents’ permission. It’s one more step towards independence. It’s important for parents to remember that teenagers are still learning how to spend money. Help them focus on the rationale behind the purchases or demands they make. Point out how advertisements and marketing campaigns play an important role in decisions about spending.
Advertisers take an almost scientific approach to studying human behavior. Marketing agencies know how to reach their target audiences and they spend large amounts of money to create new markets or expand existing ones. They emphasize image, fun, popularity and a way to be better. Whether it’s on billboards, television, posters or magazines, advertising is omnipresent in the lives of teenagers.
There are regulatory and control systems in place, but advertisers still try to make people believe that they must have a certain product. As adults, many of us have probably been sorely tempted to make this kind of purchase, and with any luck, have learned from our mistakes.
Teenagers will also make mistakes. But if they are well prepared, they will be more sceptical about advertising. At the very least, if they ever buy something purely because of advertising or magazines, they will be able to understand why they did so and learn from it.
The Internet is a way to communicate, shop, and entertain ourselves with music, games and downloaded movies. It’s also a lucrative arena for marketing and advertising. Advertising on the Internet is the least expensive and most effective technique for exposing goods and services to the largest possible number of people. Young adolescents may be particularly susceptible to unscrupulous Web marketing. It’s estimated that teens spend, on average, a little bit more than five hours per week surfing the Internet.
Peer pressure is often thought of as something that affects especially teenagers. Peer pressure often has a big influence on a large portion of our society’s purchasing decisions. People and especially teenagers, often feel the need to keep up with the most modern technical gadgets, and to keep up with the images that we are exposed to every day in the media. It’s crucial to teach children to have self-confidence, and that there are more important things in life than what their friends think, have, or want.
Teenagers will learn that while our needs and desires may be unlimited, our resources are not. It is important that they understand clearly that our decisions can’t always be just about our desires.