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CCFC NEWS - Winter, 2006

 

IN THIS ISSUE:

 

Save the Date!

CCFC’s 5th Annual Summit

Consuming Kids: Marketing in Schools and Beyond

Wheelock College, Boston

October 26-28, 2006

 

Confirmed Speakers:

Enola Aird, Brita Butler-Wall, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Richard Daynard, Lisa Fager, Jon Hanson, Allen Kanner, Joe Kelly, Jean Kilbourne, Velma LaPoint, Diane Levin, Susan Linn, Alex Molnar, Juliet Schor and Michele Simon.

Moderator:  Alvin F. Poussaint, MD.    

 

CCFC’s 2006 Consuming Kids summit promises to be our best ever.  Since 2001 we have been bringing together distinguished scholars, activists, parents, and educators to talk about how marketing undermines children’s health and well-being and what we can do about it.  This year’s summit features a special focus on marketing in schools. 

 

The summit kicks off on Thursday, October 26 at 7:00 PM with an opening reception and a special presentation of the 2nd annual Fred Rogers Integrity Award, named in honor of the beloved host of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, is given by CCFC to the public figure whose efforts to protect children from harmful marketing best embody Mr. Rogers’ long-standing commitment to nurturing the health and well-being of America’s children.  Last year we gave the award to Senator Tom Harkin.  We will be announcing this year’s winner in the spring. 

 

Friday and Saturday will feature presentations and workshops on topics ranging from the impact of Commercialism on Learning to Marketing Sex, Violence, and Values and we also examine effective advocacy strategies for reclaiming childhood from corporate marketers.   

 

So save the date!  Registration information will be available in the coming weeks at www.commercialfreechildhood.org/events.htm.

 

CCFC to Sue Viacom and and Kellogg

On January 18, CCFC joined with the Center for Science and the Public Interest (CSPI) and two parents from Massachusetts to announce our intent to file suit against Viacom and Kellogg to stop them from marketing junk food to young children.  The suit will ask a Massachusetts court to prohibit the companies from marketing junk foods to audiences where 15 percent or more of the audience is under age eight, and to cease marketing junk foods through web sites, toy giveaways, contests, and other techniques aimed at that age group.

 

“For over thirty years, public health advocates have urged companies to stop marketing junk food to children,” said CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn.  “Even as rates of childhood obesity have soared, neither Viacom nor Kellogg have listened.  And now the stakes are too high. We can no longer stand by as our children's health is sacrificed for corporate profits.”

 

The suit has already received a barrage of media coverage, including a supportive editorial in the New York Times.  Most of the mainstream press has been quite respectful, helping us to raise consciousness about the myriad ways that junk food is marketed to children.  Two excellent articles about the suit stand out:  Suing the Pants off SpongeBob by the Center for Informed Food Choice’s Michele Simon and Time to Kick Kids Ads in the Square Pants by Lenore Skenazy.

 

The courts play a time-honored role in struggles for social justice.   To find out more about why we joined in this effort we encourage you to read CCFC’s Frequently Asked Questions About the Lawsuit

 

We will keep you updated as this important effort moves forward.  If you haven’t done so already, please take a moment to urge the CEO’s of Viacom and Kellogg to stop marketing junk food to young children

 

Get Involved

Ten minutes of your time will help us stop the commercial exploitation of children

Thoughts on Book Fairs?

Have you ever worked or volunteered on a school book fair?  Do you have concerns about the commercialism that is often prevalent at book fairs (e.g. books, toys or media that are really advertisement for television shows)?  Have you or your child’s school ever tried to organize a non-corporate book fair by using a local independent bookstore?  If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, please email ccfc<at>commercialfreechildhood.org so we can learn more about your experiences.

Seeking Examples of Marketing in Preschools

As marketers look for new ways to establish cradle-to-grave brand loyalty, they are increasingly marketing in preschools, often in the guise of a curriculum or educational materials such as Kellogg’s “Spark Creativity with Froot Loops” program.  CCFC is compiling examples of this disturbing trend for a new fact sheet on Marketing in Preschools.  If you’ve noticed any marketing for food, toys, media or other products in your child’s preschool classroom, please let us know at ccfc<at>commercialfreechildhood.org 

School Administrators Wanted for Survey on School Commercialism

Matthew Lapierre, a graduate student at the University of Connecticut, is studying school commercialism for his master’s thesis.  He is looking for current or former school administrators to pilot test a questionnaire and provide feedback before he sends it out to schools in Massachusetts and Connecticut.  The survey takes about 15-20 minutes to complete.  If interested, please visit http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=722771815961.  Questions should be directed to matthew.lapierre@uconn.edu.

Hardy Girls Healthy Women Joins CCFC

A warm CCFC welcome to our newest organizational member, Hardy Girls Healthy Women, Inc.  Hardy Girls Healthy Women envisions a world in which women and girls experience equality, independence and safety in their everyday lives.  They provide programming for girls and women and opportunities for community discussion on the roles we all play in developing hardy, healthy girls and women.  Hardy Girls Healthy Women also has a lending library full of resources.  Their work is to support organizations, schools, communities, providers, parents and girls in their efforts to change the culture from one that values girls and women on how they look to one that recognizes girls and women for who they are and what they contribute to the world.    For more information, please visit http://www.hardygirlshealthywomen.org

Hardy Girls Hardy Women becomes the twenty-fifth organizational member of CCFC.  A complete list of CCFC organizational members is available at http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/memberorgs.htm.   For more information on how your organization can join the growing movement to reclaim childhood from corporate marketers, please email ccfc<at>commercialfreechildhood.org.           

CCFC Member News

CCFC – Quad Cities

The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood-Quad Cities has initiated a local campaign to raise awareness of the detrimental effects of screen media on preschoolers.  The goal is to raise the level of awareness of parents of preschoolers, day care providers, preschool teachers, and health care providers regarding the detrimental effects of screen media through a year-long public awareness campaign, and to suggest age appropriate alternative that will help these individuals decrease children's exposure to screen media. 

The materials will be distributed to all new parents of babies born in Scott and Rock Island Counties in Iowa and Illinois by the Visiting Nurses Association.  CCFC-QC will also provide in-service training for daycare providers about the detrimental effects and alternatives to screen media through cooperation with the Iowa Extension Service.  These materials will also be distributed to all pediatricians, family practice doctors, and nurse practitioners through cooperation with local hospitals.  CCFC-QC will also prepare a series of articles to be included in newsletters directed toward parents of preschoolers about the detrimental effects and alternatives to screen media.  For more information, contact Kathy Bowman at KBowman18@aol.com.

Dads and Daughters

On February 9, Dads & Daughters, Geena Davis, and USC's Annenberg School for Communication released the first of several research briefs from a major new study of the top 101 G-rated films of 1990-2004.  The report, titled “Where the Girls Aren’t,” shows that across all speaking parts, there are 3 male characters for every 1 female. The ratio is even more lopsided (5:1) when analyzing crowd scenes and narrators.

The full study is the most in-depth content analysis ever of G-rated movies.  DADs’ See Jane program commissioned the study and you can read the full report at www.seejane.org. The results were presented at the University of Southern California and discussed by Geena Davis, Annenberg researcher Dr. Stacy Smith, DADs President Joe Kelly, and film executive Lucy Fisher.  Watch the taped webcast at http://annenberg.usc.edu/events/060209seejane/seejane.ram.

Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment (TRUCE)

TRUCE has a new brochure up on its web site called TV and Your Child. The brochure is available in both English and Spanish.  The one-page brochure was designed to be downloaded and distributed at parent events, pediatricians' offices and libraries.  There is also a 2-sided version available that can be printed on tag paper and used as a bookmark!  Contact truceteachers@aol.org  to arrange to get the file.

Events

TechKNOW Girls Unlimited: To Your Health!

Kennebec Valley Community College, Fairfield, Maine

April 8, 2006

Join Hardy Girls Healthy Women at the eighth annual Girls Unlimited Conference at Kennebec Valley Community College!  This year's conference for girls in 5th-8th grade is a hardiness zone for girls to spend a day meeting new people and expanding their horizons.  Workshops topics include how to read the media critically, what it takes to become a doctor, and how to start your own business and be fiscally healthy!  Workshops for women include Girlfighting on the Internet and Packaging Girlhood: Rescuing Our Daughters from Marketers' Schemes taught by girlfighting expert Lyn Mikel Brown.  For more information, please visit:  www.hardygirlshealthywomen.org .

Raising Children in Commercial Culture:  To Have? Or to Be?

Washington Waldorf School, 4800 Sangamore Road, Bethesda, Maryland

April 28-29, 2006

This conference, sponsored by the Nova Institute, will address the challenges of raising children in our consumer culture and explore ways that adults can balance the influence of consumerism and provide children with what they really want that money can’t buy.  Speakers include CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn and Dr. Velma Lapoint; Joan Almon, from CCFC member organization Alliance for Childhood; and Betsy Taylor from the Center for a New American Dream.  For more information, visit http://www.novainstitute.org.

Media Literacy in a Violent Society

Wheelock College, Boston

July 12-15, 2006 

This summer, Wheelock College will be offering its 11th annual institute, Media Literacy in a Violent Society.  The Institute is taught by CCFC co-founder, Diane Levin, and Gail Dines.  A major focus of the Institute is how commercial culture shapes the media culture directed at children and what professionals and parents can do about it. For information, contact summerinstitutes@wheelock.edu or dlevin@wheelock.edu

Facing The Media Crisis: Media Education for Reform, Justice and Democracy

October 6-8, 2006

The Wyndham Lakefront Hotel and Champlain College

Burlington, Vermont

CCFC member organization the Action Coalition for Media Education will gather media education experts, media reformers, public health advocates, interested citizens, and independent media producers in beautiful Burlington, Vermont’s Champlain College from October 6-8, 2006 (Columbus Day weekend) for their third media education Summit.

Summit keynote and plenary speakers include U.S. Senate candidate Bernie Sanders, Sut Jhally, Jean Kilbourne, Bill McKibben, Robert McChesney, Robert Jensen, Peter Phillips, John Stauber, Diane Wilson, CCFC’s Josh Golin and more than one dozen other prominent media educators and citizen/activists!

For registration information or to submit a workshop proposal, please visit http://www.acmecoalition.org.  Early bird registrants will receive multi-media education resources valued at more than $250!

In the News

For the latest information about marketing to children check out the “In the News” section of CCFC’s website.  We update news archives several times a week.  They are organized into sections such as “Food Marketing,” “Marketing Violence,” and “Toys and Play”.

If you haven’t been checking “In the News” regularly, here’s some of what you missed:

In-game ads link to the real world by Clayton Collins.  A look at the ads embedded in video games, including those that allow gamers to click on links and order Pizza Hut pizza and other products.

Are Educational Baby Videos a Scam? by Nell Minow.  A startling look at a booming industry that regularly asserts that their videos for infants are educational, despite a lack of evidence to support this claim.

Selling an ideal of lipstick and lace By Lyn Mikel Brown and Sharon Lamb.  From Bratz to Dora, the lessons that marketers are teaching young girls.

Things We Wish We Didn’t Know

The latest cell phone for young children?  Bratz, the sexpot dolls that actually make us nostalgic for Barbie.  The phones come complete with text messaging capability and Internet access so marketers can have constant access . . .

From August 2004 to August 2005, Nickelodeon’s website for kids Nick.com pulled in more advertising revenue than any other site . . .

Clear Channel’s Hot 99.5, the top-rated radio station for 12-17 year-olds in Washington D.C. is holding a promotion called “Breast Year Ever” in which listeners apply to receive free breast augmentation surgery.

Editorial:  The Corporate Takeover of Babyhood – By Dr. Susan Linn

The marketing and media industry’s escalating assault on babies and young children is perhaps the most troubling development in a commercialized culture abound with troubling trends.  By targeting babies, companies are not just marketing products, but potentially inculcating life long habits, values, and behaviors—hardwiring dependence on media before babies have a chance to grow and develop.  At stake, immediately, is children’s capacity for creative play.  Losing—or never acquiring--the ability to play may not sound like much until you realize that play is both the foundation of learning and essential to mental health.  Initiative, curiosity, active exploration, problem solving, and creativity are capacities that develop through play, as are the more ephemeral qualities of self-reflection, empathy, and the ability to find meaning in life.   

Seven years ago, when Alvin Poussaint and I first wrote about Teletubbies and the terrible disservice PBS did to babies and families by falsely promoting the TV series as educational for children as young as 1, we feared that because of PBS’s imprimatur, we would see is a whole rash of television programs aimed at babies.  What actually happened is far worse.  Despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under two shouldn’t watch screen media; despite the fact that there is no evidence that screen media is educational for babies; despite the fact that there is mounting evidence that it can be harmful, a vast and highly lucrative, babies’ media industry is flourishing.  These days, content from Nickelodeon and Sesame Workshop can be downloaded on cell phones and parents are being urged by media executives to hand them to babies for soothing.   Minivans come with screens in the back seat.  Spongebob Squarepants MP3 players, and personalized DVD players are made for toddlers.  Marketers want to reach children not just at home and at school, but when they are between places. 

The burgeoning fad of cute little electronic media devices especially for toddlers is devastating, especially in combination with the barrage of marketing for glitzy electronic toys such the Tickle Me Elmo franchise that stifle creativity and the fact that it’s getting harder and harder to find toys that don’t chirp, beep, squeak, move or talk on their own.   As screens and electronic toys increasingly occupy the lives of our youngest children they will have little or no experience with creating play.  A recent survey of young children shows the correlation between TV viewing and diminished time spent in creative play.  We are raising children, from infancy, to need electronic toys and media in order to be either stimulated or soothed.   Which, of course, is exactly where corporations want them—as sitting ducks for a bombardment of commercial messages. 

CCFC and our member organizations such as TRUCE, CEASE, and the Alliance for Childhood are working hard to address the structural, societal issues are allow commercialism to subvert children’s play. Our Quad Cities Chapter has initiated a grass roots effort to educate their communities about the potentially harmful effects of electronic media on babies and toddlers.   As individuals, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the commercialization of childhood, but when it comes to babies and media there are steps we can take.  Infants and toddlers are not nagging their parents for electronic doodads.  Instead, these products are foisted on babies by well-meaning adults who are being sold a bill of goods by saavy marketers.

So don’t buy the hype and don’t buy the videos or gadgets.  And help spread the word.  If you’re a parent, talk to other parents —or expectant parents—about the fact that those so-called educational electronic devices for babies are not, in fact, educational.  If you a healthcare provider, publicize the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to keep babies screen free.  If you’re a teacher or daycare provider, help parents find alternatives to TV and movies for their youngest children.   

Working together we can stop the corporate take over of babyhood.    

Support CCFC

CCFC needs your help. We rely on our members for support because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate funding.

 

Your tax-deductible contribution will help us:

  • Raise public awareness about how marketing harms children
  • Advocate for policies that will help protect children from corporate marketers.
  • Build a coalition of individuals and organizations that value children more than corporate profits.

Click here to donate today!

 

 

     

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