Save Millions with Zillions

By Young, Shannon | Insight on the News, September 2, 1996 | Go to article overview

Save Millions with Zillions


Young, Shannon, Insight on the News


Unlike his parents, Jimmy isn't interested in what Consumer Reports has to say about skateboards, sneakers or mountain bikes. But a junior version of that magazine talks his language. Zillions, also published by the Consumers Union, conveys the same information in children's lingo: The bimonthly magazine aims to alert them to advertising's seductions and make them better-informed consumers.

"We want to provide children with some kind of counterbalance to all the pressures that are on them to buy, buy, buy," Editor Charlotte Baecher says. "The goal is not to give advice about what to buy, but to question products."

Kids wield tremendous purchasing power -- children age 8 to 12 have more than $17 billion at their command, according to one estimate. Teaching them to be good consumers is important because they "are just becoming independent with their money and are subject to lots of peer pressure," says Baecher. "The problem is that advertisers are getting to kids before the kids understand they're being sold to."

National Education Association spokesman Nelson Canton agrees. Teachers must educate children about being better consumers because commercialism is finding its way into American schools. "Advertising keeps kids from learning the things they really need to learn -- that's the problem of commercialism," he says.

And according to Mary Ellen Fise, general counsel for the Consumers Federation of America, parents need to discuss advertising with their children "as soon as kids can start talking about what they see on television." Says Fise, "Statistics show that kids tend to believe most of what they see on TV."

Zillions, which primarily targets 8- to 14-year-olds, has a circulation of 350,000. About 250,000 copies are home subscriptions; the remaining 100,000 are distributed at no charge to schoolchildren in low-income areas. …

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