Battlepanda: Pester Power


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Pester Power

I am basically pro-kid, not just on an abstract level, but also cautiously bullish on the idea of one day bringing a minimum of one and a maximum of two sproglings to adulthood. But every once in a while I come across something that gives pause:

"Xmas power point

...They are employing their high-tech savvy to wow their parents into fulfilling their Christmas wish lists.

Take 11-year-old Katie Johnsen of the District, who wants a virtual snowboarding game and a chocolate fondue fountain. She turned her list into a PowerPoint presentation with red and green backgrounds, a picture of Santa and links to the Web sites where the items can be bought.

"They are big operators," said Ellen Yui of Takoma Park, who has two sons. "They know how to work the system. They know how to work us big time."

This is the generation that has never known a world without the Internet. They rush home from school to talk to their friends online and flirt over text messages. They have mastered the latest communication technologies and added them to their holiday arsenal.

"Kids have figured out what to do to . . . get what they need and want. That's nothing new," said William Strauss, co-author of the forthcoming book "Millennials and Pop Culture." "What's different is kids' capabilities, the tools they have and what will work with their parents."

Yui's kids, 11-year-old Yoshi and 13-year-old Zen, changed the screensaver on her computer one Christmas to read "I love you" over and over again -- and end with a request for a video game.

This year, Zen wants a cell phone -- specifically, the sleek Sony Ericsson V600i. But it isn't sold in the United States yet, so anything that works will make him happy. He has dragged his father to a phone store "just to browse" and can recite all the features of his favorite phone by heart. It's the only item on his list -- testimony to his dedication -- and he has honed a powerful argument.

"Mom, I hate it when I come home [late] and you're disappointed because I hate making you mad," Zen said, reprising the line he gives to his parents. "And then I say, 'Can I have a cell phone?' "

Ack! I don't want manipulative devil children who are basically acting as agents of the retailers, working me over on a day by day basis until I crack and give in to their emotional blackmail. I don't want to be frogmarched to the family computer terminal to enter my credit card details in order to purchase the latest craze. Dastardly.