November 2014

This Year's TOADY Vote Could Come Down to the Wire; Resources for Resisting the Holiday Hype; After Online Skewering, Mattel Pulls Sexist Barbie Book; Great New Resource for Parents: Kids Unbranded; Victory: FTC Denies New COPPA Age Verification System; 13-Year-Old Activist Calls Out Big Sugar

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In this issue:

This Year’s TOADY Vote Could Come Down to the Wire

I love the TOADYs. It's a smart, tart, civilized way to let toy manufacturers know how disgusting people think some of their products are. – CCFC Member Molly Sackler on Facebook.

Early exit polls show that this year’s contest is the closest ever. If you haven’t cast your ballot yet, please click here to vote for the Worst Toy of the Year. Your vote could make the difference. And if you’re having trouble deciding, check out our blog where TOADY voters make the case for the LeapBand by LeapFrog, the Mini Mall by miWorld, the U-verse app by BabyFirst, the Barbie Loves Girl Scouts doll by Mattel, and the Anything app by Cartoon Network

The TOADYs (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) are CCFC’s response to the Toy Industry Association of America’s annual TOTY (Toy Of The Year) Awards. It’s a fun way to highlight disturbing trends and get a little respite from the commercialism of the season. We’ll announce the results on December 8—may the worst toy win!

Resources for Resisting the Holiday Hype

The holiday ad blitz is in full swing, so remember to download your free copy of CCFC's Guide to Commercial-Free Holidays! It’s packed with practical tips for making the holidays less materialistic and more meaningful. Contributors include Enola Aird, Lyn Mikel Brown, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Nathan Dungan, Nancy Gruver, Allen Kanner, Tim Kasser, Joe Kelly, Annie Leonard, Diane Levin, and Susan Linn. And if you want a preview, this syndicated Chicago Tribune piece highlights some favorite suggestions. 

After Online Skewering, Mattel Pulls Sexist Barbie Book

“Be anything, do everything” is Barbie’s motto. But that’s definitely not the message in Mattel’s head-scratching new book, Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer. In the book, Barbie explains, “I’m only creating the design ideas… I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game!” And when a virus crashes her computer, a helpless Barbie turns to the boys once again. 

When an e-version of the book went viral, parents and activists took to social media to mock Mattel under the hashtag #feministhackerbarbie. Kathleen Tuite, a systems programmer, developed an app so that people could add their own text to the book (like the one pictured here); you can find a collection of some of the best “edits” here. In the face of withering criticism and brilliant satire, Mattel apologized and pulled the book from online stores.

Great New Resource for Parents: Kids Unbranded

Our friends at the Center for a New American Dream have created a brand-new guide, Kids Unbranded: Tips for Parenting in a Commercial Culture. Packed with practical advice from experts, including CCFC’s Executive Director, Susan Linn, and Board Member Tim Kasser, the guide provides helpful tips and tools to navigating the challenges of raising and educating kids in our hyper-materialistic culture. The guide also spotlights the work of activists challenging the corporate takeover of childhood, including CCFC’s Associate Director, Josh Golin. Click here to download your free copy.

Victory: FTC Denies New COPPA Age Verification System

In a 5-0 vote, the Federal Trade Commission rejected an application by AgeCheq, Inc. to create a new system for obtaining verifiable parental consent under the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) rule. In September, CCFC joined the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) to urge the FTC to reject the AgeCheq bid.

The COPPA rule requires child-directed websites and apps to obtain parental permission before collecting personal information from children under 13 and lists acceptable methods for obtaining that consent. The FTC has also invited outside parties to propose new parental consent mechanisms. CDD and CCFC successfully argued that approving AgeCheq’s application would undermine existing privacy protections for children.

13-Year-Old Activist Calls Out Big Sugar

When Ryan Storm went to a school health fair featuring the Canadian Sugar Institute, he asked some important questions. Why was the Institute presenting at his school as part of a “Healthy Hub” program? Why were they claiming sugar was healthy? What studies they were citing? Who had funded the research? But the sugar reps weren’t too happy with him. “I was asked by the supervising presenter to stop asking so many questions, and basically asked me to leave their table. Four people were at that table promoting sugar, and one pretty small 13-year-old kid asking questions was a problem?” So Ryan decided to blog about being silenced by Big Sugar—and his account made headlines around Canada. You can read more about the inspiring young activist who called out the sugar industry here.

Book Review: 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids: The Very Best and Easiest Playtime Activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com! by Asia Citro, MEd

With the explosion of digital entertainment aimed at very young children, it’s more important than ever to help kids find time for imaginative play with sensory-rich materials. 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids provides easy, step-by-step instructions for creating open-ended activities for babies, toddlers, and older children. Citro purposefully chooses materials that are inexpensive and easily found at local grocery stores or superstores. Many of the activities are designed to engage multiple ages at once (great for siblings!). Whether you’re new to sensory play or just looking for some fresh ideas, 150+ Screen-Free Activities for Kids can help you inspire hours of screen-free fun.

Recommended Viewing, Reading, and Listening