November 2013

Vote for the Worst Toy of the Year; Protecting Young Children from Media Violence; Another Win for Student Privacy; Healthy Kids in a Digital World; Recommended Viewing and Reading

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Vote for the Worst Toy of the Year

It’s TOADY time! CCFC’s annual contest for the worst toy of the year is in full swing. We’ve nominated five terrible toys – and you decide the winner. Visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/toady2013 to cast your vote today.

The TOADYs (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) are CCFC’s satirical response to the Toy Industry Association of America’s annual TOTY (Toy Of The Year) Awards. It’s a fun way to highlight disturbing toy industry trends – and get a little respite from the mind-numbing commercialism permeating this season. CCFC members are voting in droves – and campaigning passionately for their choices on our website and social media. The voting frenzy shows no signs of letting up, so we are extending the deadline to December 8th – and we’ll announce the winner the next day.

Protecting Young Children from Media Violence

A new study finds that, on average, PG-13 movies now have more gun violence, than those rated R. In the light of this disturbing finding, The New York Times convened a panel of experts, including CCFC’s Susan Linn, to debate whether the film industry’s rating system is in need of an overhaul.

“The Motion Picture Association of America’s rating system fails parents and children in its misuse of the PG-13 rating," Susan wrote. And it’s not just how films are rated – it’s that “PG-13 movies are heavily marketed to preschoolers through commercials, kid’s-meal promotions and toys.” Susan called on the MPAA to develop a consistent marketing policy that would prevent young children from being targets for violent PG-13 films. If you agree, you can sign our petition to the MPAA by visiting http://org.salsalabs.com/o/621/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=12318.

Another Win for Student Privacy

Colorado is now the sixth state to end its relationship with inBloom, a corporation dedicated to storing and sharing sensitive student data with for-profit companies. Jefferson County was slated to be the first district to use inBloom in Colorado. But working with a core group of parents and educators – including many CCFC members – we helped organize successful efforts to stop the data collection scheme. Student privacy became a pivotal issue in the recent JeffCo school board election and after the pro-privacy ticket won, the district ended its relationship with inBloom. Within a week, the state followed suit. That means New York and Illinois are the only states still proceeding with inBloom. If you live in either state, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/action/inbloom to learn what you do to protect your child’s privacy in school.

Healthy Kids in a Digital World

Last year, with a grant from Kaiser Permanente’s Community Health Initiative, CCFC created Healthy Kids in a Digital World: A strategic plan to reduce screen time for children 0 -5 through organizational policy and practice change. Working with major organizations like the National WIC Association, the National Head Start Association, and the National Black Child Development Institute, CCFC created a plan to help our partner organizations incorporate reducing screen time into their work with and for young children. We are thrilled that we just received additional funding from Kaiser to begin implementing our plan. We’ve already begun meeting with our partners and will be working them intensively this year to devise strategies for reducing screen time.

CCFC at NAEYC

We just returned from the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s annual conference, where we stirred up lots of enthusiasm for protecting children from harmful commercialism and excessive screen time. Given the importance of early development, we were so pleased to be a major presence there. Susan Linn presented at sessions on storytelling and puppetry, nurturing early development in a commercialized world, and children’s right to play. Sara Adelmann and Shara Drew facilitated a highly interactive session on planning a successful Screen-Free Week. And Abigail Dunn welcomed hundreds of conference-goers to CCFC’s booth, providing them with key resources and the opportunity to vote for this year’s TOADY Award. And we’re so pleased that our frequent collaborator Joan Almon, from the Alliance for Childhood, was honored by the Play, Policy, and Practice interest group, as were CCFC Steering Committee members Nancy Carlsson-Paige and Diane Levin.

Recommended Viewing and Reading

  • Joystick Warriors: This new film from the Media Education Foundation moves beyond sensationalism to provide a stunningly clear and comprehensive account of what’s known, and not known, about the personal, social, and cultural effects of video game violence. You can watch the trailer here and read an interview with the filmmaker here.
  • Fast Food Facts: Yale’s Rudd Center provides the most complete look yet at how fast food companies target children and teens. Among the disturbing findings: Fast food marketing to teens via social media and mobile devices grew exponentially. Spanish-language advertising to Hispanic preschoolers, a population at high risk for obesity, increased by 16%.
  • Toys R Us Throws Mother Nature Under the Bus In Prankvertising: A great takedown by Shaping Youth’s Amy Jussel of a terrible Toys R Us ad.