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The digital communication technologies of the twenty-first century allow a new generation of children greater reach, connectivity, and learning opportunities then any generation in the history of mankind. Today’s children are viewing television, accessing the Internet, and utilizing cell phones at increasingly younger ages every year. This state of constant-connectedness, however, is exposing our children to unprecedented commercialism and wiring them to be young, active citizens of consumer society. With the thousands of hours that children spend exposed to commercialized television programming, surprisingly little research has been done to find the answers to some very large questions. The over-commercialization of television shows like iCarly serves to condition children into consumer culture at a young age. Where better to start then by examining consumer society at work in the most popular children’s television show on the history of the planet: Nickelodeon’s iCarly. Debuted in 2007, the show tells the story of three teenage friends who produceand film their own web show. Four seasons later (and three Kid’s Choice Awards) the show is the most viewed show on cable television.

Sarah Banet-Weiser's ideas on Nickelodeons Consumer Society:

To fully understand the role that commercialism has in iCarly, it is important to first understand Nickelodeons long history of raising kids into active consumer citizenship. Author and Scholar Sarah Banet-Weiser’s text entitled “Kids Rule! Nickelodeon and Consumer Citizenship” raises some interesting ideas about how children are conditioned to become part of consumer society at a young age. Benet-Weiser notes that “children have often been positioned in this relationship as incapable of distinguishing between programming and advertising. This lack of critical ability makes the child more venerable to commercial address of the advertisement, and more susceptible to manipulation” (Pg 75).The interactive nature of the television show creates a strong sense of community among its viewers, essentially becoming a platform on which to advertisers can take advantage of.
The show has a strong interactive element, which encourages a multi-faceted viewer experience. In conjunction to watching the television show, viewers are encouraged to visit the iCarly website to comment, submit pictures, and ultimately become an active member of the iCarly community. This uniquely dynamic element to the show bonds fans of iCarly in a much stronger way then a simple television program of the past, leading children to become more active members of the iCarly community. Banet-Weiser believes that “not only are consumers marketed to in individualized ways, but the shared identity of consumers is increasingly one of the most meaningful national connections among members of a community" (Pg 10). This increased interactivity leads children to become more exposed to more commercialism, advertisements, and consumerism then traditional television shows alone. Nickelodeon prides itself on "understanding kids," which is an extremely appealing quality to advertisers.

Methods: My main method of research was aimed at understanding how kids perceive commercials in iCarly episode; before, during, and after they watch them. I first performed a deep watching of several iCarly episodes and mapped out the commercials, taking note of which themes, stereotypes, and ideas are presented on a regular basis. By comparing my observations to traditional advertising theory, as well as other scholarly research on the subject, I was able to develop one series of questions to ask children (boys and girls 7-12). My research findings and interview questions are listed below.


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Research Questions

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Interview Questions

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Key Research Findings

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Works Cited