For several years now, I've recommended a book by Juliet B. Schor, Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture about the unethical marketing practices corporations are using, aiming as young as infancy. Today, John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute wrote an amazing commentary about this very thing. Please take the time to read it, even if you can't devote the time to the Schor book. Here's a link to the Whitehead commentary, and an excerpt:
Children are in greater physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual danger now than at any other time during the life of this nation--and the threat is coming from a multi-billion dollar industry that is using the latest advances in psychology, anthropology, and neuroscience to transform children into profitable consumers from cradle to grave.
It's no surprise that the pre-teen demographic has become a major draw for marketers and big business. There are presently 52 million kids under the age of 12 in the United States. These kids spend $40 billion of their own money on everything from clothes and music to toys and electronics annually, but more importantly, they influence an additional $700 billion in parental spending.