June 2011

Michelle Obama Calls for Limits on Screen Time in Childcare Settings; Jack in the Box Takes Toys off the Menu; Jack in the Box Takes Toys off the Menu; More Than 55,000 Strong, We’re Telling Scholastic: Stop Promoting Corporate PR in Classrooms; Webkinz Pulls Ad In Response to CCFC Concerns; Stop Channel One: Looking for Teachers and Parents to Help; Support CCFC: 7 Days to Raise 7K for a $25,000 Match!

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Michelle Obama Calls for Limits on Screen Time in Childcare Settings

We’re so pleased that earlier this month, First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled an important new effort to reduce children’s screen time in childcare settings and at home.  As part of her new Let’s Move! Child Care initiative, the First Lady urges day care facilities and home-based providers to:

  • Commit to no screen time for children under 2 years.
  • Strive to limit screen time to no more than 30 minutes per week during child care for children 2 and older.
  • Work with parents and caregivers to ensure that children over 2 have no more than 1-2 hours of quality screen time per day, the limit recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Mrs. Obama’s efforts are the latest in a growing public health movement to improve children’s wellbeing by reducing the amount of time children spend with screens.  Providers would do well to follow her recommendations.  According to a 2009 study in Pediatrics, 36% of center-based childcare programs include television time, for an average of 1.2 hours a day, and a troubling 70% of home-based childcare programs include television time for an average of 3.4 hours per day.  And that’s in addition to the 32 hours a week that 2-5-year-olds spend, on average, in front of screens at home.

The First Lady’s call for reducing screen time comes at a critical time for children.  The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the nation’s premier early childhood professional organization, is currently revising its position statement on Technology in Early Childhood Programs.  We hope that NAEYC will join the First Lady and the public health community in helping parents and early educators promote healthy living by limiting the amount of time children spend with screens.

Jack in the Box Takes Toys off the Menu

Jack in the Box, the restaurant chain with more than 2,200 locations, will no longer include toys in its kids’ meals.  The move comes amid growing pressure on fast food purveyors to stop using toys to market to children.  We applaud Jack in the Box’s decision to respect parents as gatekeepers and urge other fast food chains to follow its lead. 

Jack in the Box’s courageous decision stands in stark contrast to McDonald’s, which—as Susan Linn notes in the CCFC blog—is responding to the pressure by continuing to sell kids on toys but courting parents with a much different message.

More Than 55,000 Strong, We’re Telling Scholastic: Stop Promoting Corporate PR in Classrooms

The pressure is mounting on Scholastic to shutter its controversial InSchool Marketing division.  More than 55,000 parents, teachers, and advocates for children—by far the most to ever participate in a CCFC campaign—have urged Scholastic to stop promoting corporate interests in classrooms.  Syndicated columnist Jim Hightower is the latest to weigh in on Scholastic’s partnership with the coal industry, which ended after a campaign led by CCFC.

Meanwhile, CCFC members held a virtual “rally” at Scholastic’s Facebook page, and a supporter has started a mock Scholastic4Sale Twitter account (“helping underserved corporations reach children's classrooms”).  You can read more about Scholastic4Sale and see a slide show of “new” Scholastic book titles like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Commerce in this Huffington Post piece by Josh Golin.

If you haven’t yet written to Scholastic, please take a moment to do so by visiting http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/621/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=6851.  And in the coming weeks, we’ll be letting you know about more opportunities to keep the pressure on!

Webkinz Pulls Ad In Response to CCFC Concerns

Last week, we were contacted by CCFC member Christina Cunningham, who was outraged when she saw an ad that read, “Let’s Make A Baby!” on the popular children’s website Webkinz World.  We shared Christina’s concerns with Webkinz, and within 24 hours, they agreed to pull the ad. 

We appreciate Webkinz's responsiveness.  Nevertheless, we remain troubled by the advertising on Webkinz World.  A few years ago, after pressure from CCFC, Webkinz agreed to give parents the ability to opt-out of their children seeing third-party ads.  Some of the ads, like those Christina saw on Webkinz World’s log-in page and others that are integrated into the site, are unavoidable. We urge Webkinz to fully honor their own opt-out policy.  Meanwhile, if you see inappropriate advertising to children—on Webkinz or anywhere else—please let us know

Stop Channel One: Looking for Teachers and Parents to Help

Are you a teacher or a parent of a child in a school that shows Channel One, the controversial in-school news network?  We want to hear from you.  We’re stepping up our campaign to stop Channel One from forcing schoolchildren to watch commercials during taxpayer-funded class time.  And since the network refuses to divulge who their advertisers are, we need parents and teachers to let us know what the in-school marketer is up to.  Remember, schools with Channel One lose a full day of school each year just to the ads – and that doesn’t even include the highly commercialized content of the newscasts.

Support CCFC:  7 Days to Raise 7K for a $25,000 Match!

As our fiscal year draws to a close, we need to raise $50,000.  An anonymous donor has stepped up with a generous challenge: if we raise the first $25,000 by June 30, he will donate the rest.  We’ve raised $18,000 so far, so if we can raise another $7,000 in the next seven days, we’ll make our match!  Please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/contribute to make your tax-deductible contribution.  Remember, it’s your support that makes our advocacy possible!