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Book of the week: We're the tweenies and we love our labels

BrandChild By Martin Lindstrom Kogan Page pound;25

Lindstrom says that tweenies, far from being naive, are in fact the shrewdest, choosiest, most ruthless and fickle generation of customers ever to stalk the planet

It sounds like the sort of orchestrated child abuse scenario the police occasionally uncover after receiving a tip-off and impounding a few computers. Except that it's much bigger, and nobody will be appearing in court.

Consider the facts. A group of adults - many of them churchgoers and respected figures in the business community - conspire over several years to influence the behaviour of children to comply with their wishes.

Frequently using the internet, and sometimes disguising themselves as juveniles to gain acceptance, these self-seeking individuals target ever younger age-groups, amassing dossiers of information about their victims' preferences and weakness, which they exchange among themselves.

Armed with this information, they use a battery of techniques ranging from the most sophisticated psychological manipulation to such seedy ploys as handing round toys and sweets to persuade their victims to behave in ways that may be harmful to their physical, mental or emotional health.

If this were a case of sexual exploitation, there's no doubt that the perpetrators, once exposed, would be rounded up and dealt with. But we are talking here about commercial exploitation, about persuading children to buy products....

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Read this review in full in this week's TES Friday magazine

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