CCFC: A Positive Pick, Even When Calling Out Negative TOADY Toys

Dec. 4, 2012 No question I continue to land hard on watchdogs that aren’t woofin’ when it comes to media and marketing’s impact on kids, but nobody does it better than Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) with a solid lip curl and warning snarl before tearing the pants off of those without a corporate conscience focused on profiteering over public health…

…So today’s positive pick goes to CCFC, for their steadfast championing of change in the name of children’s well-being.

Whether you’re annoyed, amused, or applauding the bark and bite of CCFC’s numerous campaign efforts to raise awareness and make change, (like this week’s TOADY awards for worst toys, or their 18-month slam dunk stuffing of the false advertising exploitation of Your Baby Can Read) CCFC is filling a vital role inciting media pundits to educate the public about key issues, giving industry a powerful poke in the backside to act/react and move things along in a healthier direction.

CCFC is tireless, formidable, whip-smart (and sometimes hilarious in their culture-jamming antics) but to me, they’re most helpful when they deep dive with factual analysis like their latest report “Facing the Screen Dilemma: Young Children, Technology and Early Education,” which is balanced, unbiased and critical for everyone trying to wrap their heads around media management in an increasingly screen saturated electronic world without polarity of ‘either/or’ thinking.

CCFC’s new report focuses specifically on early childhood development, content’s role in the help or harm equation, passive vs active engagement, and head-spinning statistics that are purposeful and poignant to contextualize the massiveness of the issue far beyond ‘the good, the bad and the ugly,’ simplistic mandates or pediatric  pundits.

ANYone purchasing gifts and goods at holiday time should read that report (27pp pdf) FIRST and inform themselves well, especially those WITHOUT children who tend to flow into the sea of impressions without seeing how their gift could upend or undermine a family inadvertently, creating chaos and making parents’ jobs harder with sidewinders, trajectories and altered states on the home front.

Rather than automatically buying into ‘wishlist 2012 iHoliday device hype’ use your own knowledge of parents and their preferences too…

Have you ever even talked to the family about media use?

The Nielsen graphic (at left) addresses ages 6-12, yet CCFC is showing industry age compression outreach dialing down to infants and toddlers.

Did you know, for example, “In 2011 there were 3 million downloads just of Fisher Price apps for infants and toddlers…and that estimates of how much time preschoolers spend on average with screen media range from at least 2.2 hours to as much as 4.6 hours per day?” Hmn.

Though I ascribe to the ‘all screens are not equal’ notion and am exceedingly aware of the difference between passive and interactive screen time…

…I’d say this begs a big ol’ question of parental agency and usurping personal choice with presumptions in gift-giving if you brazenly insert yourself into the family sanctuary as an interloper sans mega-media and marketing mindfulness.

Are you cogent of whether you’re lobbing digital ammo into a family foxhole in the war for hearts and minds when you buy the latest pricey ‘iGizmo’ or monstrous thread-thin dollie with skirts up the bazinga. You might wanna pause a moment Aunties, grandparents and hipsters as you might be surprised.

I’ve found in Silicon Valley for example, that it’s often the most media savvy zealous young techies that are ‘screenstavers’ with their own kids.

It’s not just eco-minded nature lovers advocating for outdoor play and life balance, blending in media with mindfulness … Discordant? Not at all.

Again, when you read the CCFC report with mindfulness and blend in your own reasoning, personality observations of a child, larger context of screen ubiquitousness from gas pumps to grocery stores in ambient surround sound, it can alter your worldview and many adamantly ‘stave off’ awhile from a developmental science standpoint.

CCFC is not saying toddlers will auto-morph into addicted eye-glazed zombie vidiots, (though I’ve seen my fair share of overly ‘attached’ humans to screens which can be chilling and mind-numbingly surreal) they’re saying to get fully informed, be mindful of age and stage of introducing devices as well as family dynamics, contextual environment, etc.

Aunt Bertha may want to make a big ‘impression’ but it’s equally important to be considerate of ‘iParents’ who may find your buying boomerangs into a ‘what the heck were you thinking?’ realm.

I can’t tell you the countless number of exasperating sighs I hear in casual conversation on ill-fitting gift blunders…far beyond screens too. (I’m thinking of putting together a list of ‘here’s what’s worse’ items to add to CCFC, as I strongly feel sexualization and bodyimage cues to kids are damaging at a very deeply embedded level, early and often with kids as young as three starting to self-perceive with fat phobic, unrealistic imagery)

Update 12/6/12: It’s official: Te Fisher Price Apptivity Monkey shown above just garnered the CCFC Toady Award for Worst Toy.

Though I don’t always agree with CCFC’s choices, chances are once I lift the veil deconstructing WHY they chose a particular target, I find myself head bobbing with understanding, adding a layer of insight to my own points of view with richness and depth…One of many reasons I try to attend their conferences to take mental floss to the mind and sift and sort for a cleaner perspective awash in the tech corridor here of innovation, education and industry hype about ‘the next big thing.’

Thank you, CCFC…for educating, rabble-rousing, game-changing, unifying, advocating, and existing.

If you’d like to help with the latter, their year-end matching funds campaign is under way.

Though Shaping Youth is still self-funded and fiscally untethered, I’m donating to their nonprofit  as a ‘positive pick’ with a hearty salute of thanks for all the work they do for children, snapping open heightened awareness of those with “eyes wide shut.” As Winston Churchill would say, KBO…“Keep Buggering On!”

lego butterfly beauty shop toady 2012p.s. Last day to vote in the CCFC Toady Awards Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children (yes, it’s a Worst Toy of the Year parody dripping with sarcasm and snark, so definitely tongue in cheek, and no, I won’t tell you what I think should win…yet.

Saving that for a separate post including ‘what was left out’…Winx, winx. ;) Don’t delay, vote today!

p.s.s. AND, of course, don’t miss our ongoing ALTERNATIVES for healthier media/marketing and positive picks for kids this season running all month long…

Now I’m off to interview “A Mighty Girl.com” …watch for it soon. Keep those suggestions coming, open call for positive picks continues!

 A Timeless Trailer for CCFC’s Consuming Kids Available from MediaEd.org

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