Blog Post List
July 16, 2013
Some of the toy industry's most powerful players are trying to hijack the Tooth Fairy. Until now, the Tooth Fairy was one of the few iconic children's fantasy figures that escaped being captured, branded, and monetized. But shocking footage from a pitch to investors by Paul Yanover, CEO of Fandango and former Disney senior executive, shows that's about to change -- big time. The pitch is preposterous enough to be parody, but its intent is dead serious. "Can you believe?" the video begins , "that a childhood character known by millions worldwide has not yet been licensed?" To the alluring "ca-...
June 14, 2012
The notion that instituting parental controls for Facebook’s underage users or creating a kid-friendly version will keep pre-teens off of the regular—or unrestricted—site is ridiculous. The 7.5 million children under the age of 13 who are lying to get on the site will continue lie with our without their parents’ permission. According to Microsoft research, only 35% of parents whose kids are on Facebook actually know about it.
April 27, 2012
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...
March 1, 2012
Universal Studio’s animated film The Lorax opens in theaters on March 2. And environmentalists and people who care about children are already outraged—with good reason. For more than forty years, the Dr. Seuss classic has been a clarion call for reducing consumption and promoting conservation. But the book’s eloquent environmental message is being crushed by the film’s slew of corporate cross-promotions.
December 6, 2011
It's been easy for people worried about the sexualization of little girls to feel unambivalently distressed about Miley Cyrus as Disney's Hannah Montana. But how should we feel about her now that she's made this great music video about Occupy protests around the world?
August 24, 2011
A Canadian couple's decision to keep their infant's sex from the world at large seems less weird when one consider's the harms done by the marketing industry's sexualization of young children
August 17, 2011
As Big Food tantrums about guidelines for food marketing to children a new study links advertising to nagging for junk food
August 15, 2011
Stuck for a whiz-bang college essay? Buy an experience! One more way commercialized culture robs kids of authenticity, creativity, and self-motivation.
August 3, 2011
The controversy brewing over a new breastfeeding doll soon to be sold in the United States reminds me of the bru-ha-ha about Teletubbies when Jerry Falwell accused Tinky Winky of being gay. People rightfully upset about homophobia came to the support of the show, misguidedly defending the goodness of Teletubbies—which was being marketed, falsely, as educational for babies. Public discourse about Breast Milk Baby is following the same lines. Arguments over the doll are centered on culture wars—whether it is appropriate for young children to witness breast feeding, imitate it, or even know what...
June 20, 2011
As advocates for deep change know, big success is often preceded by small incremental changes that may go unnoticed by the general public. It seems the effort to stop fast food companies from hawking toys to kids is gaining ground. I was watching Friday Night Lights recently (a great show if I don’t fret about the product placement) and blithely forwarding through the commercials when an ad for McDonald’s Happy Meals stopped me cold. There were no toys. Intrigued, I rewound and watched in real time: We see a multi-racial bunch of totally cute kids with Happy Meal boxes—but they’re empty. A...
April 15, 2011
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, which I direct. 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...
April 5, 2011
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...