September 2014

UN Special Rapporteur Calls for Prohibition on Marketing to Kids Under 12 and Ban on In-School Ads; Let's Kick Ronald McDonald Out of Schools; Houghton Mifflin's Channel One Brings Execution Horror into the Classroom; Great New Resource: Fall Family Play Plans from TRUCE; Recommended Reading and Viewing; Send us your TOADY nominees; Book Review: The Grammie Guide

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UN Special Rapporteur Calls for Prohibition on Marketing to Kids Under 12 and Ban on In-School Ads
A new report from United Nations Special Rapporteur on cultural rights could have a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of children worldwide. The report, which examines the impact of advertising and marketing on the enjoyment of cultural rights, includes a section focused on the rights of children with respect to education. The Special Rapporteur recommends that UN member states and/or local municipalities “ban all commercial advertising and marketing in public and private schools and ensure that curricula are independent from commercial interests.” And while the report doesn’t focus on the myriad ways children are targeted when not in school, it makes the important recommendation to “prohibit all forms of advertising to children under 12 years of age, regardless of the medium.”

The Special Rapporteur will present the report—which was written in consultation with experts on commercialism, the arts, and public health worldwide including CCFC’s Josh Golin—to the General Assembly on October 28. In the meantime, you can download your copy here.

Let’s Kick Ronald McDonald Out of Schools
It’s back to school and back to business as usual for Ronald McDonald. Just four months after McDonald’s CEO Don Thompson boldly proclaimed, “We don’t put Ronald out in schools,” the world’s most predatory clown has been spotted in schools in California, Louisiana, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, and Texas. Any type of marketing in schools exploits a captive audience, but it is particularly insidious to send a junk food mascot into classrooms while schools are tasked with instilling healthier eating habits in children. That’s why we’ll be reminding McDonald’s that every one of Ronald’s incursions into classrooms makes a liar out of their CEO. If you haven’t done so already, you can join the more than 10,000 people who have demanded McDonald’s immediately stop sending Ronald into in schools.

Houghton Mifflin’s Channel One Brings Execution Horror into the Classroom
The death of journalist James Foley is a tragic story and there’s no reason schoolchildren should be forced to see horrifying images of it. And yet, thanks to notorious in-school marketer Channel One News and its parent company Houghton Mifflin, that’s exactly what happened to millions of students around the country. Pictures of James Foley moments before his execution (and including the knife that killed him) were shown to 6th-12th grade students. And images of heavily armed militants were shown to 3rd-5th graders with a news report about the execution. As Jim Metrock perfectly explains in this video, if this is what Channel One did in the first week of its partnership with Houghton Mifflin, we should be extremely concerned about what’s coming next.

Great New Resource: Fall Family Play Plans from TRUCE
Our friends at TRUCE have new additions to their popular Play Plan series, designed to inspire families to play together. Each plan is full of creative (and inexpensive!), screen-free ways to engage children. So this fall, turn off screens and turn on playdough, cardboard boxes, and leaves! To download your free guides, please visit

Recommended Reading and Viewing

  • “Parents are getting the message that they need to buy things for their children in order for their children to be able to play, to be able to learn, to be able to be happy,” CCFC’s Susan Linn tells WGBH in this video about “Minimalist Parenting.”
  • A comprehensive look at in-school commercialism—including a checklist of what to look out for—by Shaping Youth’s Amy Jussel.
  • A day in the data-driven life of the most measured and monitored students in the history of education.
  • High-tech parents but low-tech parenting—a number of technology CEOs (including Steve Jobs!) have opted to significantly limit screen time for their kids.
  • Reboot or Die Trying—blogger David Roberts explains how his relationship with screens almost drove him nuts and what he learned from a year spent without social media or the Internet.

Send Us Your TOADY nominees
The holiday toy season and its inevitable advertising blitz is almost upon us. And that means . . . it’s TOADY time! The TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) is CCFC’s annual “award” for the worst toy of the year. Each year, we select 5 nominees that epitomize the worst toy industry trends and you vote for the winner. But first, are there new toys that you find particularly appalling? Send your suggestions to our TOADY Nominating Committee by replying to this email with “TOADY Nomination” in the subject line. Pictured on the right is last year's winner: the iPotty.

Book Review: The Grammie Guide—Activities and Answer for Grandparents Today
This thoughtful book by Lynne Noel, Jan Eby, Laurie Mobilio, and Cindy Summers—grandparents to a combined 22 kids—is an informative guide to grandparenting young children in our modern, screen-saturated world. The authors rightly recognize that grandparents have a special role to play in fostering the hands-on, creative play that children need to thrive.

The Grammie Guide is never preachy. Instead, the book makes the case for low-tech grandparenting by sharing the latest research on child developement and celebrating the joy of playing with your grandchildren. It’s jam-packed with more than 500 grandparent-friendly, free or low-cost, indoor and outdoor activities for kids 0-5, as well as tips for grandparenting from afar. It includes helpful reminders on ages and stages as well as suggestions and stories from each of the book’s four authors. Highly recommended for any grandparent not ready to cede their grandkids to the iPad just yet.