Since a large majority of the 30 parents we had surveyed have observed that their children use profanities regularly (70%), wear skimpy and “punkish” clothing (60%) and behave differently from children in the past (70%), we can safely assert that the present generation of children in Singapore have been influenced by the appeal of teenage lifestyles that were not as strong in the past. To find out how parents feel about the early maturing of children, we conducted a survey for 30 parents (aged 30-55 years old) of children at Methodist Childcare Centre. Parents, having more opportunities to observe their children, will be a good source of information about how children have been affected by exposure to television programmes, toys and apparel.
The results show that the percentage of high skepticism level is lower than expected for toys (8% for Bratz and 11% for My Scene). This is probably due to the wide variety of choices that we have provided in the survey, therefore parents chose the choices that they feel more adversely affected their children. It shows that parents are typically more apathetic about the toys their children play with, hence the effects of toys on children might often go unnoticed.
Although the negative impacts of toys are not apparent, they are nonetheless crucial, as Ms. Agnes Koh has mentioned that toys can influence children mentally. As parents are unaware of toys’ adverse impacts, the trend will not change. Hence ignorance of parents on this issue can be tackled in our plans to alleviate the trend.
The group observed children’s behaviour, such as the amount of profanities and type and frequency of physical force used by children, and also the types of clothes young girls wear, so as to obtain first-hand information from the children themselves about how the trend has influenced the children. It was discovered almost 50% of the girls observed wore miniskirts and spaghetti straps. In a class of 24, the number of times profanities was used in one hour amounted to 28 times. This shows that children are increasingly exposed to profanities. In the same class, the children pushed and kicked one another eight times in one hour to achieve their objectives.
Also, we noted that nothing much was actually done to correct them. Moreover, children are not mature enough to differentiate right from wrong. Thus, such negative teenage practices are further propagated amongst children, resulting in the trend to be more apparent. In conclusion, children nowadays define beauty and coolness in a teenage manner. Hence their mindsets have changed, which is a consequence of exposure to negative aspects of teenage lifestyles.
Observations of Children Apparel and Toys We carried out our observations at Kingkow (for apparel) and Toys ‘R’ Us (for toys) located at Forum, Orchard Road, reason being Forum has wide variety of children products, thus many parents choose to patronise the stores there. After spending one hour in Kingkow to observe the sales of apparel, we noted that children need not pester their parents to purchase halters or miniskirts for them as the parents seemed willing to do so. The cashier said that the sales of halters, miniskirts and baggy pants have gone up from 10% to 50%, sharing the market with traditional apparel like T-shirts. Hence we conclude that parents are seeing such teenage fashion as a normal and acceptable style for children, this would further facilitate the exposing of children to negative teenage behaviour.
Next, we spent another hour in Toys ‘R’ Us so as to observe the market of Bratz dolls. Bratz was placed under the “Girls’ Favourites” section while Barbie was not. Although Barbie has a greater variety than Bratz, more children spend longer period of time looking at Bratz. Furthermore, some parents were also choosing Bratz to buy for their child. Thus, we assert that parents today believe that such dolls are suitable for their children. There are three possible outcomes of the development of the trend.
After thorough evaluation of primary and secondary information gathered, it is clear that the exposure of children to negative teenage behaviour will follow an increasing trend (blue). That is because of the supply-demand theory we had stated in the literature review8. We had evaluated that with low birth rates and high economic growth in Singapore, parents will have more time and money to indulge their children. This leads to the increased popularity and production of teenage products catering to children. Goods produced in greater quantities include dolls similar to Bratz. There will be more television programmes with teenagers as lead actors, and books and CDs about and written by youth. The next children’s fashion scene may compose largely of teenage apparel and such clothes will get more mass-produced.