CCFC Blog

I broke my Screen-Free Week pledge within 60 minutes of waking up on the first day—by walking into the gym. After drifting into my usual exercise-induced trance, I startled awake to find myself reading a news crawl on one of the eight wall-mounted televisions, each tuned to a different station. That prepared me, however, for the coming week. I was going to have to be vigilant not just about the screens I chose to give up, but about screens over which I have no control. I did pretty well—and I’m proud of it. The truth is that my hopes about reading more, taking time to do nothing, and going to the circus didn’t materialize—a death in the family had me on a plane to Detroit and spending time with several generations of cousins. I found...
April 25, 2011: More than ever, our efforts to reclaim childhood from corporate marketers are gaining significant and widespread media attention. With your help, CCFC is the driving force behind a much-needed national conversation about the commercialization of childhood.   Take a look at what happened in just ten days! On April 11, CCFC’s director Dr. Susan Linn was featured in “Parents decry marketers who push sexuality on little girls” in USA Today. On April 12, our Federal Trade Commission complaint against Your Baby Can Read was the subject of an Associated Press story syndicated in hundreds of newspapers and websites around the country. On April 13, our FTC...
National Screen-Free Week is April 18-24.  Here are 101 ideas for things to do during the week-long celebration.  Please comment to share your favorite screen-free activities! (Click here for a printable version -- use it to cover up your TV!)At Home1. Listen to the radio.2. Write an article or story.3. Paint a picture, a mural or a room.4. Write to the President, your Representative, or Senators.5. Read a book. Read to someone else.6. Learn to change the oil or tire on a car. Fix something.7. Write a letter to a friend or relative.8. Make cookies, bread or jam and share with a neighbor.9. Read magazines or newspapers. Swap them with friends.10. Go through your closets and donate items to Goodwill, the...
Screen-Free Week starts in a few days, and I am mostly excited for the challenge. I’m a little anxious about leaving the Facebook world for seven whole days (I wasn’t even able to do that during a trip to the French Alps last fall), but I look forward to escaping status update overload and all the virtual tagging and poking for a while. I’m happily anticipating more time for reading, listening to music, and enjoying longer walks with my two little dogs. But what I’m not so happily anticipating is tuning out Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert next week. I have identified my Screen-Free Week Achilles’ heel.  I’ve considered proposing that CCFC choose the date for Screen-Free Week based on the Comedy Central duo’s vacation schedules, but...
Given that my daughter (almost 2.5) is screen-free year-round, the week won’t really affect her (although hopefully her father will be a little less distracted). So for me, the week is more about looking in the mirror. Giving up TV will be easy. If it weren’t Screen-Free Week, I would definitely watch some of the NBA playoffs but given that my team (don’t laugh – the New Jersey Nets) isn’t in them, it won’t be much of sacrifice.  But the Internet is another story. I know I spend way too much time online. I never joined Facebook, but Twitter definitely has its hooks in me. I get lost clicking from tweets to news and commentary. And then there’s commentary on the commentary and before you know it, wow – is it really midnight? I swore I’d be...
So my daughter-in-law stopped by the office yesterday to pick up a Screen-Free Week Organizer’s Kit. National Screen-Free Week, April 18-24, is hosted by Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. She, her husband, and the two best little girls in the world—okay, in my world—are going to join in the celebration by giving up screens for a week and hanging out in life. What’s interesting is that she doesn’t think it’s going to be so hard for the children. But she's not so sure about the adults. She’s determined to stop checking her phone at home (which annoys the kids) and their dad is going to stop “staring at the computer” (which also annoys the kids).  That got me thinking about my own Screen-Free Week commitment. At my house, it’s going...
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Your Baby Can Read! for false and deceptive marketing. YBCR is a $200 video-based system that allegedly teaches babies as young as three months to read. TheToday Show did a great story on our complaint, and we’re already hearing from parents who have been duped by the company. Reading experts from around the country agree that baby’s brains aren’t even developed enough to learn to read. Reading is more than memorizing what a word looks like on a flashcard—it requires comprehension. Like other baby media companies, Your Baby Can Read exploits our natural tendency to want what’s best for our children. There is no evidence that babies learn...
On April 12, 2011, CCFC filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Your Baby Can Read!, a $200 video series that encourages parents to put infants as young as three months in front of screens. The complaint is part of our ongoing campaign to support parents’ efforts to raise healthy babies by stopping the false and deceptive marketing of “educational” baby videos. Below are some of the false and deceptive advertising claims we cite in our complaint. Television Ads The Claim: Your Baby Can Read! teaches babies to read. The Facts...
This weekend I attended the National Conference for Media Reform (NCMR) here in Boston. The event, coordinated by our friends at Free Press, brought together over 2500 advocates for media justice from all over the world. It was electrifying to be among so many passionate, creative, hardworking media reform activists. What inspired me most about the conference was the diversity of issues on which we were able to connect. Individuals and organizations gathered to address issues critical to the development of a fair and democratic media system, issues ranging from war coverage to immigrant rights, from government accountability to gender equality. The mood of the conference was one of jubilation and solidarity. So you can imagine my surprise...
The much acclaimed Nintendo 3DS promises endless hours of screen-time pleasure—and a load of trouble for parents and children. It provides 3D gaming with no bothersome glasses. Reviews glowingly describe a three dimensional experience that is more real and more compelling than ever before—instead of objects appearing to come at you, the new Nintendo technology creates a more realistic sense of depth. According to the New York Times, “Just about every child in America who likes video games is going to want a 3DS; the clamor will reach a fever pitch this weekend and will continue straight through the summer and into the holiday season.” The Times goes on to describe how the hand-held charmer is perfect for school bus rides. What it doesn’t...

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