March 2014

The Girl Scouts Are #BetterThanBarbie; Let’s Keep the Pressure On; Still No Evidence That Touch Screens Are Good for Babies; Celebrate Screen-Free Week May 5th to 11th; FTC, California Attorney General Weigh-In On Harmful Facebook Settlement; Media Madness: The Impact of Sex, Violence, and Commercial Culture; Recommended Reading

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The Girl Scouts Are #BetterThanBarbie; Let’s Keep the Pressure On
Nearly 5,000 people have already signed our petition urging the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) to end their partnership with Barbie. The partnership includes a Barbie-branded website and the first-ever commercialized participation patch for Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies. Our efforts have been featured in media outlets around the world, including the Associated Press and USA Today.

We’re particularly heartened by the tremendous response from Troop Leaders and parents of Scouts, who are dismayed that GSUSA would accept $2 million from Mattel to promote a brand so antithetical to its vital mission to “build girls of courage, confidence, and character.” As Troop Leader Christie Parker said, “Girl Scouts should be a safe place for girls to be who they are and not be fed images of corporate falsehoods of who they should be.” We are also happy to learn that some local organizations, like the Girl Scouts Western Pennsylvania are refusing to participate in the Barbie promotion.

If you haven’t already done so, please support these local Scouts by sending a strong message to GSUSA’s national leadership to cut all ties with Barbie.

Still No Evidence That Touch Screens Are Good for Babies
Earlier this month, media outlets trumpeted the surprising news that Dr. Dimitri Christakis, co-author of the America Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation to discourage screen time for children under two, changed his position. In an opinion piece in JAMA Pediatrics, Dr. Christakis described his “hunch” that it’s fine for babies to spend up to an hour a day with iPads or other tablets. But, as CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn, argues in the Huffington Post, “a hunch isn’t science.” And the media misrepresentations of Christakis’ new stance may unfortunately increase the pressure on parents to use tablets with their babies.

Here’s what every parent should know: There is still no evidence that iPads are good for babies and there are so many reasons why you can and should delay introducing your little ones to screens. You can read Susan’s piece here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/susan-linn/a-hunch-isnt-science-stil_b_4979024.html. Please share this important post with parents and caregivers of young children.

Celebrate Screen-Free Week May 5th to 11th
Screen-Free Week allows children to be active explorers, creators, "imaginers," and doers in life, not passive observers… Let’s "pull the plug" and give them a chance. - Nancy Blanning, Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America

Just 5 weeks until Screen-Free Week 2014! From May 5th to 11th, children, families, schools, libraries, and entire communities will turn off screen-based entertainment to spend more time playing, daydreaming, creating, reading, exploring nature, and reconnecting with family and friends.

More than 50 organizations endorse Screen-Free Week, including the National Black Child Development Institute, the National Head Start Association, KaBOOM!, and the Association of Children’s Museums. Want to join in the celebration? Visit screenfree.org to download our free Screen-Free Week Organizer’s Kit, and to access essential SFW handouts, screen-free play ideas, and more. For even more great resources and to connect to other Screen-Free Week organizers, don’t forget to “like” our Screen-Free Week Facebook Page.

FTC, California Attorney General Weigh-In On Harmful Facebook Settlement
Last month, we told you how CCFC took an unprecedented stance, by turning down $290,000 (90% of our 2013 budget) and publicly opposing the settlement of a class-action lawsuit against Facebook because the settlement's terms were harmful to children and efforts to protect kids’ online privacy. Our decision made headlines around the world, and shined an important light on Facebook’s deceptive privacy policies. This month, our objections got a significant boost when both the Federal Trade Commission and the California Attorney General filed briefs supporting some key arguments made by privacy advocates opposing the settlement. Read more at bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/21/u-s-and-california-officials-enter-battle-over-facebook-privacy-settlement.

Media Madness: The Impact of Sex, Violence, and Commercial Culture
This summer, join CCFC co-founder Dr. Diane Levin (author of Beyond Remote-Controlled Childhood and So Sexy, So Soon) and Dr. Gail Dines (author of Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked our Sexuality) for a Media Institute/Stop Porn Culture Training on the impact of sex, violence, and commercial culture on children and adolescents. The institute/training will be held at Wheelock College in Boston on July 7th to 10th and is a wonderful learning opportunity for educators, parents, students, and activists. Participants will explore the role that the media (television, magazines, advertising, pornography, video games and music videos) plays in shaping our gender identity, our intimate relationships, our children’s lives, and ultimately our culture -- and how we can work to counteract the harms on children, families, and society in general.

For more information and to register, contact Gail Dines at gdines@wheelock.edu or Diane Levin at dlevin@wheelock.edu.

Recommended Reading:

  • Barbie, crusher of aspirations -- New research finds that playing with Barbie diminishes girls’ perceptions of their career choices, providing more evidence that the Girl Scouts/Mattel partnership is misguided and harmful.
  • Blocks, puzzles help kids prep for school and life -- A new study finds that traditional hands-on toys are more effective than screens for teaching preschoolers crucial spatial reasoning skills.
  • Little By Little, Violent Video Games Make Us More Aggressive -- A new study from noted video game researcher Craig Anderson raises concerns that "media violence exposure is teaching children and adolescents to see the world in a more aggressive kind of way."
  • My job is now about tests and data -- not children. I quit. -- “When I first began teaching more than 25 years ago, hands-on exploration, investigation, joy and love of learning characterized the early childhood classroom. I’d describe our current period as a time of testing, data collection, competition and punishment,” writes Susan Sluyter, a kindergarten teacher, in her heartbreaking resignation letter.