PERSONAL: Married; children: one daughter. Education: Doctorate in education.
ADDRESSES: Home—Brookline, MA. Office—Judge Baker Children's Center, 3 Blackfan Circle, Boston, MA 02115. Agent—c/o Author Mail, W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 500 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10110. E-mail—[email protected]
CAREER: Harvard Medical School, Cambridge, MA, instructor in psychiatry; Judge Baker Children's Center, Boston, MA, associate director of the media center. Coproducer, with Family Communications, Inc., Different and the Same: Helping Children Identify and Prevent Prejudice (educational video).
MEMBER: Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children (cofounder), American Psychological Association (member of task force on advertising to children).
AWARDS, HONORS: Media Award, Association of Multicultural Educators, 1996, for "Different and the Same: Helping Children Identify and Prevent Prejudice."
Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, New Press (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Writer and education expert Susan Linn serves as the associate director of the media center of the Judge Baker Children's Center and is also an instructor in psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Her primary focus is the effects of media and marketing on children. She cofounded the national coalition Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children, and in 2000 was appointed to the American Psychological Association's Task Force on Advertising to Children. She has also produced a number of video programs designed to help children cope with various issues such as mental illness and death, and uses her skills with puppets and as a ventriloquist in child psychotherapy.
Linn is the author of Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, The book warns adults about the ill effects of commercial advertising on children. Linn points out that modern advertising is far more prevalent than it was only a few decades ago, and that the introduction of various new technologies had made it that much easier for advertisers to get their messages across. Children are highly vulnerable to this influence, and are frequently the target of mass-marketing campaigns. In a review for the Wall Street Journal, Meghan Cox Gurdon quoted Linn as saying: "The explosion of marketing aimed at kids today is precisely targeted, refined by scientific method, and honed by child psychologists—in short, it is more pervasive and intrusive than ever before." Gurdon went on to remark that "this is hard to dispute. There is no commercial-free children's television anymore; PBS is filled with cartoon ads for Lipton, Libby's, and Chuck E. Cheese." However, she went on to remark that "Linn finishes her book with a list of maddeningly weak-kneed prescriptions: Turn off the TV during meals; run for your local school board; support campaign-finance reform; push for reregulation of children's television." Public Interest contributor Kay Hymowitz wrote that Linn "gives us a Batman-comic version of evil corporations preying on the apple-cheeked, innocent young," noting that marketing executives point out that no matter how many things children want as a result of advertising, it is ultimately the parents' responsibility to set limits. However, Vanessa Bush, in a piece for Booklist, wrote that "marketing executives have targeted children as the ultimate consumers because they are easily manipulated and able to extract dollars from their parents to satisfy manufactured desires, often against their parents' better judgment," and Briarpatch contributor, Theresa Wolfwood remarked, "if I had small children, I would want to take them and run … after reading this terrifying tale." A contributor to Publishers Weekly called the book "a socially conscious account that deserves wide exposure."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2004, Vanessa Bush, review of Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood, pp. 1585-1586.
Boston Globe, June 29, 2004, David Schoetz, "Ventriloquist Speaks out against Advertising," p. C2.
Briarpatch, November, 2004, Theresa Wolfwood, review of Consuming Kids, p. 30.
Christian Century, January 11, 2005, Lillian Daniel, "Kid Stuff: Raising Children in a Consumer Culture," pp. 22-25.
Knight Ridder Tribune Business News, December 15, 2004, Don Aucoin, "Marketers Target Ever-Younger Children with Barrage of Advertising Messages," p. 1.
Library Journal, March 15, 2004, Heather O'Brien, review of Consuming Kids, p. 94; March 15, 2004, Heather O'Brien, "Sugar Babies," p. 95.
Mother Jones, May-June, 2004, John Brady, review of Consuming Kids, p. 86.
Nation, February 24, 2003, Rebecca Segall, "The New Product Placement," p. 30.
Public Interest, winter, 2005, Kay Hymowitz, "Childhood for Sale?," pp. 125-130.
Publishers Weekly, March 29, 2004, review of Consuming Kids, p. 47.
Wall Street Journal, April 23, 2004, Meghan Cox Gurdon, review of Consuming Kids, p. W4.
Washington Post Book World, May 23, 2004, Catherine Tumbler, "The Child Buyers: Honey, We Sold out the Kids," p. T9.
Weekly Standard, October 18, 2004, Susie Currie, review of Consuming Kids, p. 43.
Susan Linn Home Page, http://www.consumingkids.com/ (February 9, 2005).