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Did you? Did you? Did you?

June 30, 2002

Did you see that new study on nagging? Did you? Huh? Huh? Did you see it? Did you read it? Did you really read it? If you didn't read the nagging study, you should, you know. You will, won't you?

Nagging is the dandelion of human relationships. How depressing to learn that kids have learned to nag their way to pretty much anything they want. (Forty-seven percent even have their own TV.) Hard to believe. Isn't it?

The Center for a New American Dream, which nags about responsible consumption and conservation, surveyed 750 kids 12 to 17 years old, a prime target for advertisers. The young people admitted they nagged parents an average of nine times for things they wanted, mainly consumer products. (Did you realize kids scored these things?) All the clothing, shoe, movie, candy, soft-drink and fast-food makers spend billions on thousands of commercials to nag millions of impressionable teenagers to begin becoming lifelong customers.

Ever obedient to commercials, though often not to parents, the young person requests the item. A parent says, "No." A one-second commercial for "No" in a sea of attractive enticements, an estimated 20,000 commercials seen by the average teenager per year. No! Easy. Simple. Clear-cut. Totally ineffective. The kid asks again--and again--and again. It's uncanny how adept even little people are--learning, for instance, that "I want that toy!" doesn't work but "I need that Tonka truck" is cute--and often effective.

Let's blame advertising. Where else could today's kids learn nagging habits? Do you know? Do you? C'mon, do ya? Because according to the typical parent, their only involvement with nagging is adult knee pain if rain's predicted.

To adults, nagging arrived on Earth like moon rocks. It's not nagging to tell 13-year-olds to clean up their room nine times? Is it? Is it? C'mon, they aren't even listening until the third time. They don't argue until No. 6 or 7. By No. 8 they're almost moving, when the threat of grounding finally prompts life signs. Nine times is reasonable, not nagging.

So where but ads could young people possibly learn nagging? Surely they don't hear nagging in homes, no nagging about money for new curtains, cars or kitchens. No spouse ever nagged about dirty shoes indoors, poor manners, strewn clothes. As much as humans say they hate nagging, it's inconceivable any partner ever nagged about being nagged.

The only sense of justice in all this is that in, say, 20 years or so, today's nagging kids will be nagged by their own kids. By that time, today's parents will live elsewhere and deny nagging claims that they spoil grandchildren. What can tomorrow's parents do about the spoiling, except nag? It's going to be great. Don't you think? Huh? Don't you? Huh?

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