January 2012

Get Ready for Screen-Free Week! April 30 – May 6; Thanks for Helping Us Meet Our Fundraising Goal; Take Action to Stop School Bus Ads; Save the Date! 8th Consuming Kids Summit: September 27-29; Massachusetts Media Literacy Bill Picks Up Steam; Alcohol Ads Banned from Boston Trains and Buses!; Recommended Reading; Protecting Children from Predatory Online Marketing

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In this issue:

  • Get Ready for Screen-Free Week!  April 30 – May 6
  • Thanks for Helping Us Meet Our Fundraising Goal
  • Take Action to Stop School Bus Ads
  • Save the Date! 8th Consuming Kids Summit: September 27-29
  • Massachusetts Media Literacy Bill Picks Up Steam
  • Alcohol Ads Banned from Boston Trains and Buses!
  • Recommended Reading
  • Protecting Children from Predatory Online Marketing

Get Ready for Screen-Free Week!  April 30 – May 6

It’s not too soon to start preparing for Screen-Free Week, the national celebration where children, families, schools, and communities have fun turning off screens and turning on life.  Anyone can participate by simply turning off entertainment screen media (TV, video games, computer games, mobile apps) and exploring the joys of life beyond screens.  But it’s more fun to celebrate with others.  And now, planning a Screen-Free Week in your neighborhood, school, church, workplace, or anywhere is easier than ever. Packed with handouts and resources, CCFC’s Screen-Free Week Organizer’s Kit has absolutely everything you’ll need for a wonderful seven days.  If you’ve never gone screen-free before, the Kit takes you through the process step by step. And this year, for the first time, it’s absolutely free! Click here to download your free Organizer’s Kit and start planning today.

Thanks for Helping Us Meet Our Fundraising Goal

Our end-of-year fundraising drive was a great success!  We made our match, and thanks to you, CCFC can continue our important work reclaiming childhood from corporate marketers.  We are deeply grateful to everyone who donated last month. We rely on you because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate funding.  And if you missed our year-end campaign but would like to contribute, you can do so anytime at http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate.

Take Action to Stop School Bus Ads 
The new legislative season brings new attempts to turn school buses into traveling billboards.  Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Rhode Island and Washington are all considering bills that would allow ads on school buses for everything from junk food to violent and sexualized media. We are enormously sympathetic to the financial plight of schools, but commercializing schools and school buses is not a good solution. That’s why we’ve created our School Bus Ad Action Center, where you can find out the status of legislation in your state and what you can do to keep buses commercial-free.  If you live in one of the states listed above, please visit the Action Center to tell your legislators to vote “No” on school bus ads.

There was some good news this week: Indiana legislators removed a provision allowing school bus ads from a school funding bill and a Rhode Island bill is being held for further study after a Wednesday hearing.  Unfortunately, Florida took a step towards commercializing its buses when the Education Committee approved a bill to allow school bus ads.  House Bill 19 now moves to the house floor for a vote.  (If you live in Florida, click here to take action.)

Save the Date! 8th Consuming Kids Summit: September 27-29

Our 8th Consuming Kids Summit will be held in Boston September 27-29.  The event brings together parents, teachers, healthcare professionals and advocates from all over the country (and world!) who are concerned about the commercialization of childhood and how to stop it.  So mark your calendars and stay tuned for more info, and in the meantime check out the highlights from our last Summit.

Massachusetts Media Literacy Bill Picks Up Steam

After CCFC supporter Erin McNeill attended CCFC’s 2010 Summit, she knew she wanted to make media literacy for children a priority in her state.  Thanks to her efforts, less than two years later, a bill that would bring media literacy to K-12 schools is wending its way through the Massachusetts legislature.  And that’s not all – the bill (Senate Bill 1956) is gaining support among key legislators.  To gain broad support for the bill, Erin reached out to educators and parents to form the Massachusetts Media Literacy Consortium. As she says, “It is wrong to leave children unprotected to fend for themselves in this environment of wall-to-wall media.”  Three members of the Consortium’s Steering Committee, Lexi Ladd, Jonathan Hoch, and Deanna Morton, also attended the 2010 Summit.  To learn more about the bill and how you can get involved, visit http://www.massmedialiteracyconsortium.com/.

Alcohol Ads Banned from Boston Trains and Buses!

Public health advocates scored a major victory when the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority announced that, beginning July 1, it will no longer accept alcohol advertising on trains or buses.  The MBTA’s decision is the result of a tireless campaign by the Supporting an Alcohol Advertisement-Free Environment in Massachusetts (SAFE MA) coalition, of which CCFC is proud to be a member.  For several years, SAFE MA has lobbied legislators and educated the public about the negative impact of alcohol ads.  Most impressively, the coalition has worked with youth activists who played a critical role in the campaign because, as ninth grader Julia Roberto told the Boston Globe, “I don't like the fact that every time I take the train or bus to school, alcohol ads are all I see.”  SAFE MA isn’t resting on its laurels; the group is now working on a bill that would ban alcohol ads from all state property. If you live in Mass, you’ll be hearing from us soon about how you can support this landmark bill.

Recommended Reading

  • CCFC’s Susan Linn and Diane Levin weigh in on the importance of children’s play in the Christian Science Monitor.
  • Lego may be hoping to cash in with its new toy line for girls, but the company is striking out with those who think girls deserve better than stifling stereotypes.
  • The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity released a new study showing that playing online advergames like Oreo Man significantly influences children’s food choices.
  • We welcome guest blogger Mary Rothchild of Healthy Media Choices and Witness for Childhood to the CCFC Blog with her first post: “Where Do Parents Find Support in Their Communities?”
  • And also in the Blog, Knowledge Linking’s Brandy King continues her guest series with “Where Do You Draw the Line?”, a post about parenting in a commercialized world.   We’ll be co-hosting a Twitter chat on the topic February 2nd at 9PM EST.  We hope you’ll join the conversation by using #CCFCchat.

Protecting Children from Predatory Online Marketing

Last month, CCFC, the Center for Digital Democracy, and 15 other organizations concerned about children’s online privacy submitted comments to the FTC in support of its proposed changes to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA Rule).  The proposed changes would provide important safeguards protecting children from the technologies and techniques that advertisers use to identify, track, and target kids online and on mobile devices.  Thanks to all of you who responded to our call to action and submitted your own comments to the FTC.  We’ll be sure to update you on the status of the proposed changes.