March 2011

Stand Up For Commercial-Free School Buses; Currently In the CCFC Blog; 18 Days To Screen-Free Week!; And don’t forget these essential Screen-Free Week links; Selling Suffocating Sexist Stereotypes; Recommended Reading: Fast Media, Media Fast: How to Clear Your Mind and Invigorate Your Life In an Age of Media Overload by Thomas Cooper; Support CCFC

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Stand Up For Commercial-Free School Buses

Earlier this month, we told you that eight states were considering proposals to allow advertising on school buses and urged you to contact your state legislators.  We are happy to report that Washington and Oklahoma have decided not to go forward with school bus ads.

Unfortunately, the news from Utah is not good. On March 25, Governor Gary Herbert signed a bill into law allowing school districts to contract with advertisers.  If you live in Utah, we encourage you to contact your local school board to voice your opposition to school bus ads.  (Our original action alert may be helpful for talking points.)

Legislation in Florida, Idaho, Kentucky, Ohio, and Rhode Island is still being considered, so if you live in one of these states, please click here to contact your local representatives.  And be sure to check our School Bus Ad Action Center for updates on the bills’ status.

Currently In the CCFC Blog

Susan Linn explores the ramifications of introducing the latest, “greatest” handheld videogame system into an already screen-saturated childhood.

Michele Simon attends an international meeting on food marketing to kids ...and leaves with “the impression that the food industry is engaging in the same charade all over the world: setting weak, self-serving, voluntary guidelines designed to ensure companies can keep right on marketing their unhealthy brands to children.”

Plus, Josh Golin on how student activism (and CCFC members) helped stop a plan to show 2 hours of ads a day on digital monitors throughout high schools in Toronto.  And Commercialism Corner, your one-stop shop for quick summaries and links to all the latest about the commercialization of childhood.

18 Days To Screen-Free Week! Here’s the latest:

  • Governor Deval L. Patrick, Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Boston City Council have declared April 18-24 Screen-Free Week in the State of Massachusetts and the City of Boston.
  • Shaping Youth’s Amy Jussel has a great post on Screen-Free Week, including why it’s so important totake a break, tips based on her own family’s screen-free “Spring Break Sanctuary,” and suggestions for screen-free activities:
  • Our friends at the Media Education Foundation have produced this great video to explain why they’ve endorsed Screen-Free Week.  It’s eye-opening, only 74 seconds long, and guaranteed to send you scurrying for the off button on the remote!
  • And speaking of the off button on the remote:  Are you tired of being bombarded by screens in restaurants, airports, gas stations, you name it?  Then TV-B-Gone was made for you.  This pocket-sized universal remote allows you to control your environment by turning off invasive TVs.  Click here to order yours; enter code “CCFC” and get 10% off, plus 10% of the proceeds will go to support CCFC’s work reducing screen time.

And don’t forget these essential Screen-Free Week links:

Selling Suffocating Sexist Stereotypes

There’s been a lot of welcome discussion lately about the rampant gender stereotyping in marketing aimed at boys and girls.  Much of it has been spurred by Peggy Orenstein’s highly recommended new book, Cinderella Ate My Daughter.  In this harrowing look at “girlie-girl culture,” Orenstein details how limited the choices mass-marketed to girls really are.  She also explores the ways in which Disney princesses prepare girls for a lifetime of consumption, including a host of products that normalize the increasing sexualization of girlhood.  To learn more about this important book, read this interview on Alternet or visit Peggy’s website.

Also highly recommended: two web resources that succinctly capture the disturbing differences in the ways that boys and girls are targeted by marketers.  At The Achilles Effect, Crystal Smith presents two “word clouds” of the language used in boys’ and girls’ commercials.  Similarly, the Gendered Advertising Remixer Application allows users to pair the audio of one toy commercial for boys with the video of one commercial for girls. Or vice-versa.  The results are hilarious – and a great media literacy tool for kids and adults.

And in the CCFC blog: Josh Golin finds these same appalling stereotypes being sold directly to children in school, thanks to the kiddie marketers at Scholastic.  One more reason we need to Shape Up, Scholastic!

Recommended Reading: Fast Media, Media Fast: How to Clear Your Mind and Invigorate Your Life In an Age of Media Overload by Thomas Cooper

Just in time for Screen-Free Week, Fast Media, Media Fast is a fascinating new look at how media overload is threatening our health, quality of life, relationships, and the intellectual and social development of children and what we can do about it.  It is possible, the author argues, to be consumers of information without being consumed by it, but it takes a clear and conscious plan and deliberate action to do so.  Fast Media, Media Fastoffers a variety of paths for exploration to reduce screen time and reclaim our time, our lives and our families in the process.  Click here for more information.

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