August 2013

Save the Tooth Fairy!; Laps, not Apps: One Down, One to Go; Back to School Resources from CCFC; Goodbye, Shara ; Welcome, Abigail!; Beyond Remote-Controlled Childhood-Teaching Young Children in the Media Age.; New Study: Burger King & McDonald's Routinely Violate Their Own Marketing Pledges; More Recommended Reading; Remembering Bob McCannon

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In this issue:

Save the Tooth Fairy!

CCFC’s campaign to Save the Tooth Fairy from excessive commercialization and sexualization is off to a great start. In July, in a blog on the front page of The Huffington Post, CCFC publicized a video produced by a group of toy-industry executives designed to snare investors for a new licensed brand called The Real Tooth Fairies. Our campaign quickly went viral, as CCFC members took to social media to mock The Real Tooth Fairies’ investor pitch and express outrage at the brand’s damaging sexualization and gender stereotypes. Media outlets around the world picked up the story, including The New York Times, the London Daily Mail, and the Ottawa Citizen and prominent blogs such as Jezebel and Babble. Even better: The Real Tooth Fairies received a well-deserved and hilarious takedown on Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!

Our voice is being heard. At her request, we met with The Real Tooth Fairies’ founder Marilyn Bollinger. We presented her with our Save the Tooth Fairy petition, including all of your great comments. To learn more about our campaign and to add your name to our petition, please visit http://org.salsalabs.com/o/621/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13911.

Laps, not Apps: One Down, One to Go.

On August 7, CCFC filed Federal Trade Commission complaints against Fisher-Price and Open Solutions, charging that both companies falsely market their popular apps for babies as educational. Just days after we filed our complaint, Open Solutions removed all claims that their apps teach babies language, math, logic, and reading skills from the iTunes pages promoting their products. As a result of Open Solutions' changes to their marketing, we’ve withdrawn our FTC complaint against them. It’s the latest in a long string of victories in CCFC’s ongoing campaign to hold the “genius baby” industry accountable for false and deceptive marketing. Fisher-Price, however, continues to claim its apps teach language and math skills to babies, despite having no research to support these claims. If you haven’t yet signed CCFC’s petition urging the FTC to take action on our complaint, please visit http://org.salsalabs.com/o/621/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=14086.

Our complaints kick-started an important conversation about babies, apps, and screen time through an impressive array of media coverage of our advocacy, including stories in The New York Times, Associated Press, The Washington Post, and on CNN, NPR, and CBS News. You’ll find links to these stories and more here. We hope you’ll share your favorites with parents who are facing the difficult decision about whether, why, how, and when to introduce their young children to apps on smart phones and tablets.

Back to School Resources from CCFC

Looking for ways to limit commercialism through the school year? Check out these great resources from CCFC.

  • Facing the Screen Dilemma. Co-authored with the Alliance for Childhood and TRUCE, this guide is designed to help early educators make informed decisions about whether, why, how, and when to use screen technologies with young children.
  • CCFC’s Guide to Commercial-Free Book Fairs. Are you tired of all the items for sale at your book fair that aren't books—such as toys, video games, posters, and fashion accessories? This guide will walk you through holding a commercial-free book fair at your school and includes an updated directory of independent booksellers who support commercial-free book fairs.
  • inBloom Action Center. For parents in New York, Massachusetts, Colorado, and Illinois: Learn more about a dangerous plan to share extremely sensitive personally identifiable student data with for-profit companies – and what you can do to stop it.

Goodbye, Shara . . .

Earlier this summer, we said goodbye to Shara Drew, our program coordinator for the last 4 years. Shara was integral to CCFC’s growth and accomplishments during her time here, and we wish her the best in whatever she decides to do next. As one supporter wrote on Shara’s farewell blog post, “Children are better off because of your work. Thanks for your help in making the CCFC what it is today.”

. . . Welcome, Abigail!

Stepping admirably and capably into Shara’s shoes is our new program coordinator, Abigail Dunn. Abigail is passionate about stopping the commercialization of childhood and it was clear when we met her that she is a perfect fit for CCFC. You can learn more about Abigail in the CCFC blog, where she reflects on what drew her to CCFC and on her first summer here.

Beyond Remote-Controlled Childhood-Teaching Young Children in the Media Age.

This important and timely new book by CCFC steering committee member Dr. Diane Levin is a powerful call to action and highly recommended for anyone who works with young children or is concerned about the ways that screen time and media culture are affecting kids and families. Based on her work with children and teachers over the past thirty years, Diane details the ways in which today’s media saturated environment is affecting children’s learning and wellbeing. She also offers practical advice for promoting healthy development in the digital age, both by adapting classroom practices to take into account the experiences of today's connected children and by helping parents make informed decisions about screen time and media in their children's lives

For more information and to order your copy, please visit http://www.naeyc.org/books/beyond_remote_controlled_childhood.

New Study: Burger King & McDonald's Routinely Violate Their Own Marketing Pledges

A just-published study confirms what CCFC has argued for years: When it comes to marketing to children, food industry self-regulation doesn’t work. McDonald’s and Burger King have pledged to abide by the food industry’s marketing guidelines, which state that food—not toys or other promotions—should be the primary focus of ads directed at kids. Yet when researchers looked at a year’s worth of fast food commercials, they found that McDonald’s and Burger King ads focus significantly more on toy giveaways and movie tie-ins than food. The study also found that McDonald’s disproportionally targets children, as a staggering 40% of its 44,062 ads were aimed at kids under 18. Click here to learn more about the study.

More Recommended Reading

  • Ca-ching! Susan Linn exposes The Real Tooth Fairies at The Huffington Post.
  • Does CCFC want a "ban" on apps for babies or to shame parents who use them? Josh Golin corrects some of the misperceptions about our baby app complaints.
  • Our awesome Research and Communications Assistant Marilyn Wilmouth looks back on her time at CCFC as she heads back to school to finish her studies.
  • Pigtail Pals’ Melissa Wardy reflects on the importance of giving children commercial-free, unplugged time to do . . . nothing.
  • Diane Levin argues why the Boston City Council can, and should, prevent unaccompanied minors from attending ultra-violent, cage-fighting matches. The proposed Council Resolution, which was endorsed by CCFC, passed on August 21st.

Remembering Bob McCannon

We were deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Bob McCannon, a longtime friend to CCFC and a presenter at our most recent Consuming Kids summit. One of the country’s most accomplished media educators, Bob was the founding director of the New Mexico Media Literacy Project and the co-founder of the Action Coalition for Media Education. Bob was a tireless advocate for children, and fought hard for commercial-free media education (i.e. not funded by Big Media). For more on Bob’s contributions and to post your own memories, please visit http://medialiteracyproject.org/blog/memoriam-bob-mccannon.