CCFC Blog

NERF: Hasbro's Play in the Toy Arms Race – Capitalizing on the amount of time boys spend engaged with violent video games, Hasbro moves toward a more “military style of play” with new line of NERF guns modeled after assault weapons. CCFC’s and TRUCE’s Diane Levin weighs in. http://www.businessweek.com/print/technology/content/jul2010/tc20100726_811886.htm Wired and Tired – Studies show TV watching, video game play, texting and other screen activities are interfering with teens’ sleep, which has negative effects for their well-being.  One doctor looks at the evidence and says, "From a public health standpoint, I look at this and I am scared stiff.” http://www.chicagotribune.com/health/ct-met-teen-sleep-...
I admit it. I have a soft spot in my heart for television. Hours of childhood make-believe and an entire life’s work were inspired by TV and movies. I become a professional ventriloquist because of television—believe me, I don’t come from a family of people who talk without moving their lips. And I spent untold joyful hours playing about characters I encountered on the screen—Flash Gordon and Peter Pan. As an adult, I had the opportunity to bring my puppets to Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and I shared Fred Rogers’ belief in the potential, and the obligation, of screen media to benefit children. So I can’t escape the irony that I now direct The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, an organization in the forefront of a movement to limit...
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were forced to confront the fact that our twenty-month-old daughter knows who Elmo is. And she likes him. For a while, Clara has been saying something that sounded a lot like Elmo. But we convinced ourselves that she was saying “MoMo,” the name of one of her stuffed animals; for parents in denial, toddler enunciation has its benefits. But when my wife dropped Clara off at daycare and she pointed to another child’s box of diapers and enthusiastically announced “Elmo,” we couldn’t fool ourselves any longer. Despite our best efforts, commercial culture has already made a considerable impression on our young daughter. That night, when my wife gently broke the news to me, Clara, who was listening to the...
In this week's Health Blog, the Wall Street Journal's Katherine Hobson asks readers to chime in on a "debate" among family doctors over the ethics of corporate sponsorship of medicine. But first, the backdrop. Last year, the American Academy of Family Physicians announced "a new corporate partnership program" and its first partner was to be The Coca-Cola Company. Soon thereafter, about 20 doctors resigned from the organization in protest, drawing attention to the matter by Food Politics author Marion Nestle as well as advocacy groups such as the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. The grant amount was described as being in the "strong six figures" by AAFP. Here is how the group described the partnership in its October...
Earlier this year, CCFC was ejected from its home at the Judge Baker Children's Center (JBCC.) Judge Baker’s decision to end its affiliation with CCFC came after representatives from the Walt Disney Company contacted the Center following CCFC’s successful campaign to persuade Disney to offer refunds on its Baby Einstein videos. The story touched a nerve with many of our supporters, including Lisa Ray -- activist, blogger, mother, and founder of Parents for Ethical Marketing: What kind of a country do we live in, I thought at the time, where a multi-billion dollar corporation can encroach upon a tiny advocacy organization and the people who work for it? Is the family friendly Disney so ruthless that it must control public criticism? Who...
The news that a federal appeals court struck down a Federal Communications Commission indecency policy reminded me of the whole Justin-Timberlake-ripping-Janet-Jackson’s-blouse-off-during-the-Super-Bowl debacle a few years ago. Tens of thousands of people called the FCC to complain, which is what spurred the agency to crack down on indecency. A few months after the Super Bowl, in a presentation to the Network of Spiritual Progressives, I expressed concern that a lion’s share of the outrage was voiced by people identified with the country’s Religious Right. Progressives, who tend to support sex education in schools, often stay away from voicing outrage about how sex is marketed to children in the media. I don’t really understand why. After...
Last week I blogged about how the Center for Public Interest (CSPI) is threatening a lawsuit against McDonald's for using toys to promote Happy Meals to kids. Since then, McDonald's has responded, sort of. In a letter apparently fed to the press even before CSPI got to see it, McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner attempts to "set the record straight:" We have a long history of working with responsible NGOs who are interested in serious dialogue and meaningful engagement; and we are open to constructive feedback. Really? Like how McDonald's worked with those two activists in the UK by suing them for libel in the 1990s for putting out a simple brochure? The case (dubbed McLibel) spawned a book and a movie and became notorious for being the longest...
When it comes to marketing to children, self-regulation is never going to work, and an article in the Wall Street Journal gets to the crux of why it won’t. Elaine Kolish, vice president and director of the food industry’s Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, told Congress that the voluntary nutritional standards proposed by a group of federal agencies for what could and could not be marketed to children were too strict. "There are very few products, period, that meet these standards, whether they're primarily consumed by adults or children.” According to the article, Kolish said that, “General Mills Inc. would be unable to gear advertising for Cheerios cereal, with 190 milligrams of sodium per serving, to children because...
I’m not surprised that American Girl dolls are about to be sold a la Webkins with keys to a virtual world—the brand’s fate was sealed when it was sold to Mattel. But the news made me sad.  It’s yet another corporate message to children that their imaginative world—their own creative play—isn’t good enough.  Back in the day, I was rather fond of the dolls. This was before the factory moved to China, before the television shows, the movies, and the designer stores featuring $25 facials for little plastic faces. Okay, I’m a sucker for dolls, but I come by it honestly.  My mother was a sucker for them, too. My mom died in 1993, when my daughter was four.  Before her death, she purchased Kirsten Larson (the one of Swedish ancestry who gets to...
It was only a matter of time. Last month, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) served McDonald's with a notice of its intent to sue if the fast food giant continues to use toys to promote Happy Meals. (An "intent to sue" letter is a prerequisite to filing a lawsuit in some states.) The basis for the potential case is that using toys to market to small children is unfair and deceptive under the consumer protection laws in a number of states. According to CSPI's letter, McDonald's toy promotions violate the laws of California, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Texas, and the District of Columbia. CSPI's litigation director Stephen Gardner explained in a statement that "McDonald's is the stranger in the playground handing out candy...

Pages

Subscribe to CCFC Blog