CCFC to Scholastic: Stop Peddling TV In Preschools

Date of Release: 

Thursday, September 15, 2005

September 15, 2005
Contact: Dr. Susan Linn (617) 278-4282
Dr. Alvin F. Poussaint (617) 278-4105
For Immediate Release

CCFC to Scholastic: Stop Peddling TV In Preschools

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is urging Scholastic, Inc. to stop promoting Tickle U, the Cartoon Network’s new block of programming for toddlers, in preschools. Scholastic recently sent branded Tickle U teaching materials to more than 20,000 preschool teachers and intends to update the materials on a monthly basis.

“Given what we know about the potential harms of television for young children, it is dangerous and irresponsible of Scholastic to use preschool classrooms to promote new television programs,” said Alvin F. Poussaint, MD of the Judge Baker Children’s Center. Television viewing by young children has been linked to obesity, attention deficient disorders and low academic achievement. “Marketing Tickle U in preschools undermines parents’ positive attempts to discourage excessive television viewing among their young children.”

Scholastic claims its materials are “designed to provide fun and educational activities for teachers to use in the classroom to encourage children to build language, thinking, and social skills.” It is clear, however, from the teaching materials – including a classroom poster of the Tickle U characters and a parent guide that urges children to “Tune in to Tickle U” – that the real goal of Scholastic’s partnership with Tickle U is to use classrooms to introduce and promote the Cartoon Network’s new programming and the licensed products it will be selling.

“Partnering with Tickle U undermines Scholastic’s reputation as a positive force in children lives,” said psychologist Susan Linn, CCFC’s co-founder and author of Consuming Kids. “Preschools should be safe havens from this kind of commercialism. If Scholastic continues to use classrooms to promote TV programs, they risk losing parents’ trust and damaging their privileged relationship with schools and with children.”

Sarae Pancetta, a preschool teacher from Dorchester, Massachusetts, is angry that Scholastic is promoting its Tickle U materials as a curriculum that will aid in humor development. “I have looked to Scholastic in the past as a publisher of good teaching materials and I am appalled that they would partner with Cartoon Network to market Tickle U in preschools under the guise of ‘curriculum’. I would never use such curriculum with children - I can teach them humor through relationships, stories and experiences.”

CCFC has initiated a letter-writing campaign to demand that Scholastic end its partnership with Tickle U and pledge not to market television in preschools.