Media and Children’s Well-Being

On Wednesday May 2, we were pleased to welcome Dr. Tim Kasser to Cuba, IL to share his presentation titled “Media and Children’s Well-Being”  (The first 30 minutes are Tim’s talk while the last 20 minutes Tim answers some questions from the audience). This presentation was part of our Screen Free Week Activities that took place in our community (April 30 – May 4).

After receiving his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Rochester, Tim Kasser accepted a position at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, where he is currently Professor & Chair of Psychology.  He has written over 100 scientific articles and book chapters on materialism, values, goals, ecological sustainability, and quality of life, among other topics. He is also the author of five books, including The High Price of Materialism (MIT Press, 2002) and the cartoon book HyperCapitalism (The New Pres, 2018).  Tim spends a good deal of his time working with activist groups that protect children from commercialization, that promote ecological sustainability, and that encourage a more “inwardly rich” lifestyle than what is offered by consumerism. Tim lives with his wife, two sons, and assorted animals a few miles south of Knoxville, Illinois. And his work has been a big inspiration for why we wanted to participate in Screen Free Week activities this week.

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Burma Shave Ads and Materialism

Burma-Shave was a brand of shaving cream famous for its humorous advertisements during the 1920s (check out the link here to see some examples for yourself).  They had a reputation sort of like Geico does today; a company known for doing unconventional commercial advertisements with their own quirky sense of style.  Yet perhaps another reason for their success lies not in the content of their ads, but new trends in American life in the 1920s that emphasized more materialistic values of status and wealth.  Or as sociologist and economist Thorstein Veblen called conspicuous consumption; spending money on luxurious goods to flaunt the wealth and status of the buyer.

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Value Pollution

The following is a portion of the transcript from our interview with Tim Kasser about value pollution.

On this edition we return to our conversation with Dr. Tim Kasser, a psychology professor at Knox College who is no stranger to rural living. We were extremely fortunate to speak with Dr. Kasser, he is the well-known author of a 2002 book called ¨The High Price of Materialism¨ which explores the undesirable effects that living in a consumerist culture has.  He´s also featured in Andrew Morgan´s 2015 documentary ¨The True Cost¨ which examines consumerism and the mass media; this film and 2011s ¨Happy¨ are both featured on Netflix and I highly recommend you watch immediately.

Dr. Kasser spoke with us about a topic he is very passionate, one that we´ll refer to as value pollution.  He’s studied value pollution for over 20 years and finds, among other things, that there are some very harmful effects advertising in particular has on children. While this may not seem like an issue unique to rural Americans, perhaps rural areas are better equipped to deal with this problem due to our ability to organize and come together.  Our essential questions today are why should we ban advertisements in schools and what would alternative, intrinsically-driven ads look like? We will do our best to tackle this important, eye opening topic and more on this edition of Forgottonia.

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Are We Happier in a Small Town? Knox College Psychologist, Tim Kasser

kasserportrait

We’ve explored a number of topics revolving around social problems we face in rural America, but just because we’re studying problems in rural America doesn’t mean everyone is miserable. In fact, rural places are awesome places to live and there’s endless amounts of great things going on. But here´s our essential question today –  can one make the case that you are happier living in a small town than anywhere else? To find out, we were very fortunate to discuss this topic with author & Knox College psychology professor, Tim Kasser. Dr. Kasser is well-known for his research on happiness which he’s conducted over the past 20 years.  He is the author of several book such as 2002s¨The High Price of Materialism¨ and has been featured in documentary films like 2011s ¨Happy¨ which explored reasons why even though the US has the largest economy, we rank just 23rd in happiest nations throughout the world.

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