January 2014

CCFC to Apple: No iPad bouncy seats; New Study: Most Kids Exposed to Junk Food Marketing in Schools; Victory! Disney Ends Pro-Fracking Elementary School Tour; Study: Confidential Student Data is Vulnerable to Marketers; Book Review: Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween by Melissa Wardy; Recommended Viewing and Reading

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CCFC to Apple: No iPad bouncy seats

As part of our ongoing campaign to protect infants from harmful screen products, CCFC is demanding that Apple end its licensing agreement with Fisher-Price for the notorious Newborn-to-Toddler Apptivity™ Seat for iPad® Device. The Apptivity Seat is a bouncy seat for an infantwith a place for an iPad directly above the baby's face, blocking his or her view of the rest of the world. The Apptivity Seat has clearly damaged Fisher-Price’s brand. CCFC’s petition urging Fisher-Price to recall the Apptivity Seat has over 13,000 signatories—more than any petition we’ve hosted in our 13-year history. The Apptivity Seat has also been the focus of dozens of scathing articles and opinion pieces. In response, Fisher-Price has taken the unusual step of distancing itself from its own product by placing a disclaimer about it on its website.

But Fisher-Price does not bear all of the responsibility for the Apptivity Seat. By licensing the iPad to Fisher-Price, Apple is equally responsible. That’s why CCFC is demanding that Apple end its licensing agreement with Fisher-Price and pledge not to license the iPad, iPhone or any other Apple screen device to a product that literally makes babies a captive audience. Our letter to Apple can be read at www.commercialfreechildhood.org/blog/apple-no-ipad-bouncy-seats.

New Study: Most Kids Exposed to Junk Food Marketing in Schools

According to a new study, approximately 70 percent of elementary and middle school students and 90 percent of high school students are exposed to food marketing in their schools. Among the disturbing findings:

  • 64% of elementary school students were given coupons for food and beverages as incentives.
  • 50% of middle school students and 70% of high school students attend schools with exclusive beverage contracts.
  • Students that attend schools in low-income areas are significantly more likely to be exposed to in-school, junk-food marketing than their wealthier peers.

It may seem like easy money, but schools actually earn very little from in-school ads. Meanwhile, companies get to pitch their unhealthy products to a captive audience of students. And, of course, marketing in schools undermines parents: As CCFC member Casey Hinds told Fox News, “I can turn the TV off at home, but I lose that option when I send them to school.”

Victory! Disney Ends Pro-Fracking Elementary School Tour
Great news! Radio Disney has ended its partnership the Ohio Oil and Gas Association to promote fracking to elementary school kids. The Disney road show was being presented everywhere in Ohiofrom county fairs to schools. Allegedly the tour’s aim was to promote math and science in schools but, tellingly, Ohio Oil and Gas Energy Education Program's Ron Grosjean said, "Our country cannot survive without oil and gas... Kids are the best way (to spread the message). They retain (the information); they remember it." After a huge public outcry, Disney agreed to end the program. Congratulations to our allies at Climate Parents and to everyoneincluding many CCFC memberswho participated in the campaign.

Study: Confidential Student Data is Vulnerable to Marketers

A new study from the Center on Law and Information Policy at Fordham Law School makes clear why CCFC's work to protect confidential student data from being exploited for commercial purposes is so important. Most school districts are using cloud services to store student data, but few of the schools' contracts prohibit these services from using the data for marketing purposeseven though these third parties store delicate information, such as which students qualify for free lunches. The study also found that many districts failed to inform parents of the full breadth of information being outsourced. You can read more about this important study here.

Book Review: Redefining Girly: How Parents Can Fight the Stereotyping and Sexualizing of Girlhood, from Birth to Tween by Melissa Wardy
Melissa Wardy of Pigtail Pal and Ballcap Buddies has written a wonderful handbook for parents trying to navigate the maelstrom of sexualized and stifling gender messages marketing to girls. Redefining Girly begins with Wardy’s account of her own transformation from an exasperated mom to effective activist. The rest of the book is packedand we mean packedwith practical and concrete advice for parents who are trying to counter the damaging stereotypes for girls. Topics include creating a stereotype-free home, talking to girls about body image and fighting back against the companies that produce and perpuatate harmful products and messages. Wardy also offers strategies to help parents with many of the real-life challenges we face when we try to raise counter-cultural children, including advice for getting friends and relatives to respect your values, and navigating the potential minefield of birthday parties. In addition to Wardy’s excellent advice, the book’s also includes “Letters from Experts” (including CCFC’s Susan Linn) on a wide-range of topics related to raising healthy girls.

Recommended Viewing and Reading:

  • Steven Colbert takes aim at CCFC's most recent targets: The Fisher-Price iPad bouncy seat and the iPotty, winner of the 2013 TOADY Award.
  • Tablets a Hit with Kids, but Experts Worry CCFC's Susan Linn urges parents to be wary of apps and screen media that touts educational benefits for babies or toddlers and notes, "The best toys are the ones that just lie there (like stuffed animals or blocks) until the child transforms them."
  • 4 Sleazy Corporate Marketing Campaigns Aimed at Kids – From telling kids to avoid water to dissing nature, a hilarious look at the worst of the worst from Cracked.com (includes adult language).
  • 'Tis the Season for Marketers to Think Like ChildrenA trade publication encourages marketers to infiltrate children’s spaces and minds in order to promote their brands, including this disturbing quote: “The more brands and marketers can immerse themselves in the world of childrenand their fundamental and unerring wants, needs and desiresthe more engaging we can make the experiences we create.”