We live in a world where material possessions, latest gadgets, the newest car and the trendiest clothes, have come to define status and position in the society and accumulation of goods is equated with success and happiness. From a culture which lived on the motto of ‘simple living & high thinking’ we have become a culture of ‘buy more, consume more & flaunt more’, a culture which thrives on obtaining and displaying wealth. How does this affect the young and impressionable minds of the children? When parents, busy with their own professions, try to compensate for lack of quality time with their children by lavishing love in the form of desired material possessions, it sends out a message to the young minds where the child starts associating love and happiness with material possessions. This association is reinforced and strengthened by media through advertising campaigns that constantly inundate us with pictures and messages showing celebrities from the film and sports world, telling us how the acquisition of the latest toy, newest car or gadget will lead to more happiness, more success and more fulfillment. As children grow into adulthood, they internalize the attitudes and values of society.

Research, on the other hand, shows that experiences, and not material possessions lead to a greater sense of achievement and happiness. Experiences connect us to each other and give us a sense of bonding and identity. In our fast paced life it is easier to buy possessions and get a short shallow quick fix of satisfaction rather than create experiences, which require more time, planning and energy but which lead to a more lasting sense of happiness and fulfillment. When the temporary high of well being acquired through possessions wears off, we start craving  for the same again and fall into the trap of  buying/acquiring more and more possessions, leading to a vicious cycle of discontent and low life satisfaction.  Valuing possessions more than people spills over into personal relationships. We start using each other as possessions instead of recognizing individual needs, issues and concerns. Personal relationships demand much more time and commitment and teach important values of loving, caring and sharing. Instead we look for love and happiness in the things we possess.

Children learn by example and when they see the glorification of possessions over relationships, acquisitiveness becomes a driving force of their lives. They start looking for instant gratification and fulfillment in material possessions. When emotional needs are not met by family and people around them, children look to fulfill those through possessions and accumulation thus going down the spiral of ‘want creating more want’ leading to discontent, frustration and low self esteem.    

It is the duty of each parent to teach their child the right values and develop correct attitudes. Strong family bonds, an open communication between parent and child, spending of quality time together and developing the faculty of rational and critical thinking in the child are the ways which help children cope with the demands of a materialistic culture.