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When Children Become Consumers

Within minutes of watching weekend morning cartoons, viewers see a range of commercials targeting children. Social scientists have long been outspoken about the effect these kind of advertisements can have on children’s psyche and development. 

But in his new book, historian Paul B. Ringel argues that children were targeted as consumers long before the invention of television. In “Commercializing Childhood: Children's Magazines, Urban Gentility, and the Ideal of the American Child, 1823-1918 ” (University of Massachusetts Press/2015),  he examines how 19th century children’s magazines established relationships with American families that introduced children to varied approaches to the consumer market.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Ringel, history professor at High Point University, about his research and how 19th century marketing approaches compare to those used today. He recently wrote an article in "The Atlantic" about what 19th century magazines can illuminate about banned books today.