CCFC Blog

"Technology-handling skills" and "the app gap" are catch phrases among early childhood educators these days. Low-income kids, the argument goes, are disadvantaged by inadequate exposure to tablets and other new technologies. But as Matt Richtel pointed out in the New York Timesrecently, children from low-income families spend more time handling technology—across platforms—than their wealthier counterparts, and across class, kids mainly use their "handling skills" for entertainment. They play games, watch videos, and visit social networking sites. There are documented gaps in the education of low-income children—for instance, in vocabulary and reading—but research shows that the time young kids spend with technology takes them away...
I failed miserably at Screen-Free Week. Alright, maybe not miserably. Here is the context: my husband Neal and I are home caring for our very new baby, Wes. He is our first child and the love of our lives, and he consumes just about every moment and every ounce of energy we have (just as he is supposed to). Every other day or so, Wes falls into a deep sleep in the evening and Neal and I giddily steal some time to watch an episode of X-Files. I had no idea how crucial this 45 minutes of “zone-out” time was to my new mother sanity until I tried to give it up for Screen-Free Week last Monday. I was hunting aliens with Mulder and Scully on Tuesday. I was disappointed in myself. Last year my Screen-Free Week was a total success. So...
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: I am so looking forward to Screen-Free Week.   When CCFC began hosting Screen-Free Week, I didn’t think about it in personal terms.  After all, my daughter (now 3.5) is screen-free. And me? I barely watch TV.  Sure, I’m on the computer a lot.  But for good reasons.  To do my job. To follow important events. As part of my non-work activism.  If I’m using screens to be a more engaged citizen, what’s the problem?  Last year’s Screen-Free Week didn’t lead to lasting changes in my screen habits, but it  punctured my denial.  That little voice in my head saying “turn off the damn computer, already” has gotten progressively – and annoyingly -- louder.  And as Screen-Free Week approaches, it’s hard to...
The truth: There I was, Director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, champion of limiting children’s screen time, playing Angry Birds on the subway. The justification: There I was, Director of Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, champion of limiting children’s screen time, after a stressful day trying to change a world that wasn’t cooperating, unable to concentrate on reading, and playing Angry Birds on the subway. Suddenly a little blonde guy, about six, practically fell over a railing and into my lap trying to get a better look at the game. Awash with guilt at setting a terrible example—being the director of CCFC has its burdens—I shut off my phone. Then his older brother spoke up. “You could get arrested,” he said.  While...
This post was written by guest blogger Brandy King of Knowledge Linking. After spending eight years working with research on children and media, Brandy now faces the challenge of raising two young boys in our media-saturated and commercialized world. Since it’s my first year with a child in school, I’m new to the “Valentine’s Day Party Procedure.” But I received a notice giving me precise instructions on what to do (and not do) to help my child participate in the celebration. If he wants to give out cards, he can bring one in for every child, signed with his name (but without their names written on them), and if we attach any food items they have to be from the approved snack list because of allergies. When I was at the...
This post was written by guest Mary Rothschild, facilitator of Witness for Childhood in collaboration with CCFC. Mary, who is the mother of 2 daughters and has worked with pre-school age children and served parents and teachers of children birth to age 8 for fifteen years through Healthy Media Choices.  A friend of mine, mother of two small children, calls this the “cuddling in” time of year. The holidays are over and life settles into a regular pattern and (in our part of the country, at least) the short days and cold weather keep family closer to home. It’s a good time for reflection. If the bill has yet to come due for the gifts given a mere month ago (where are they now?) this is a good time to make strategies for more intentional...
This post was written by guest blogger Brandy King of Knowledge Linking. After spending the last eight years working with research on children and media, Brandy now faces the challenge of raising two young boys in our media-saturated and commercialized world. When I was interviewing other parents about how they handle holiday gifts, I had two mothers say the same thing to me: I let my kids have licensed characters on pajamas, but not on any other clothes. Their rationale was that they didn’t want their children to be walking advertisements. I had never thought of commercialization in terms of items used in the home vs. out of the home. So this got me thinking: How is it that I draw the line? What are the determining...
Screen-Free Week 2012
“It’s amazing how much free time you have when you’re not in front of a screen…I never realized how much fun I missed by using screens instead of playing outside.” - Mackenzie Rothfuss, 7th grader, Bay City, Michigan Screen-Free Week is rapidly approaching and it’s going to be the best ever!  And for the very first time, our Screen-Free Week Organizer's Kit—which includes everything you need to plan a fun-filled week—is absolutely free!  Not only does the 68-page guide walk you through the organizing process, it’s also packed with fact sheets, great suggestions for screen-free activities, pledge cards and other handouts.  Click here to download yours today! Anyone can be a Screen-Free Week organizer for any kind of group—from...
At a recent summit on childhood obesity, the first lady announced a shift in her well-known Let's Move campaign -- away from food reform and toward an increased focus on exercise. Instead of "forcing [children] to eat their vegetables," she told her audience, "it's getting them to go out there and have fun." Yes, you heard that right. The first lady actually said that eating vegetables is a chore. And that playing is a preferable focus for her campaign because it's easier. In February 2010, when the first lady announced a campaign to "end childhood obesity within a generation," I was immediately skeptical. I worried that "Let's Move" signaled an over-emphasis on physical activity, a much safer political issue than eating habits, and one...
Last month, when Congress declared pizza a vegetable, it was hard to believe things could get much worse. But never underestimate politicians’ ability to put corporate interests ahead of children’s health. In the massive budget bill just passed, Congress stuck in language to require the Federal Trade Commission to conduct a cost/benefit analysis before finalizing a report that would provide the food industry with science-based nutrition guidelines for marketing to children. Experts from four federal agencies put heads together, and for the past two years have tried to complete its charge (which ironically, came from Congress in the first place) amidst powerful industry push-back. An objective approach is badly needed because Big Food’s own...

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