From the Boston Channel, 8/8/05

Evolution Of A Spending Habit

Evolution Of A Spending Habit
Nathan Dungan, Family Finance Expert

For many, unchecked spending habits (small and large) can morph into barriers for accomplishing important financial goals -- such as saving for a home or planning for retirement.

But who really influences the myriad of spending habits that add up to billions of dollars of consumer spending? The list is pretty short -- consumer product companies, advertisers, family and friends.

Recently, there have been some notable and possibly disturbing developments in the telecommunications field that could have an enormous impact on childrenís spending habits.

According to a recent Time magazine article (Aug. 1), the Walt Disney Internet Group announced in early July that it is teaming up with Sprint to develop a line of mobile phones aimed squarely at preteen children.

At first glance, it might seem relatively harmless. But itís important to note that companies like Disney believe cell phones will be the primary medium for reaching children with a steady stream of advertising messages.

Gary Ruskin, executive director of consumer watchdog Commercial Alert, believes this is trouble on multiple fronts. "Why should Disney be allowed to interrupt every school and church in this country (with their messages)?" asked Ruskin.

It could be because Disney wants access to millions of children who "are entry points to parents' wallets," said Ruskin.
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