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In the course of the 20th century, children’s culture has been inextricably entwined with consumer culture, as children have moved from being seen as extensions of the mother’s purchasing habits, to being viewed as vulnerable to marketing discourse, to being recognized as fully empowered market participants. This has only intensified and deepened in the early years of the 21st century. This entry examines the history of children’s consumer practices, the expansion of children’s consumerism since the 1980s, children’s markets, and some specific issues shaping children’s consumerism in a digital culture.

The Long History of Children’s Consumer Practices

It is easy to overlook the long history of children being approached as consumers by the marketplace. Many recent commentaries on children as consumers reference the rise of television in ...

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