So, we are TV-free, although my daughter does watch carefully selected DVDs now that baby brother is around and momma can't quite handle everything. But the point of the story here is that we are a character-free toy home and my daughter has rarely, if ever, seen a commercial on TV that was targeted to kids. (She has seen adult-oriented commercials at my parent's house).
The other day all the kids were hanging out on the steps of a neighbor, looking at his two zhu-zhu pet hamsters (I'm not even sure if that is spelled right) and a few accessories. I know that these were "the craze" around Christmas time and that this neighbor kid threw a HUGE tantrum about a week ago when his new pet didn't arrive via UPS on the day he thought it was coming.
All the kids were ahhhing and ooohing over these toys, and my daughter was super curious. At one point I heard her say, "I've seen these before, but we don't have one" in a very matter-of-fact voice. The kids soon dispersed, and my daughter was able to look at the toys up close all by herself. She looked up at me and asked if she thought we might be able to get one. I told her that I would have to think about it. A few minutes later I told her that I knew she really wanted a new dress up doll (like the less-expensive version of the American Girl dolls), and that we could probably only get one or the other. Which would she like? She did not hesitate to say that she would want the dress up girl doll, and then she put down the hamster and ran to catch up with the other kids.
It was at that moment that I actually saw the payoff of her not being exposed to thousands of commercials. The zhu zhu pet toy is really nothing special. There are a million toys that are better than that toy. But if you were a kid who saw hundreds of commercials telling you how great that toy was, you would want one. Perhaps you would even throw a tantrum if you could not get one. I think my daughter was attracted to the other kid's excitement over that toy, but really... she just didn't care that much about it.
I am so excited to see a real-life example of how she is able to think more clearly because her brain is not cluttered with commercial messages. Yay!
Just thought I'd share my story!