Unwrapping Screen-time & Finding Childhood

Back to the Basics of Allowing Children to Enjoy Healthy Play

The job of young children is to play, move, talk, and interact with people and things so as to build basic skills

Development during early childhood shapes what becomes the foundation for development throughout a person’s life. Language, motor, interpersonal, and many other skill sets have their roots in the earliest parts of childhood and, as such, this time period is incredibly important. The job of young children is to play, move, talk, and interact with people and things so as to build basic skills – and it’s just as important for this to happen as it is for an adult to do their own job every day. Read the rest of this entry »

Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood Launches “Save the Lorax!” Campaign

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” – The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

"Let’s honor The Lorax’s important message by celebrating the story and saying ‘no’ to the film’s corporate cross-promotions," say CCFC director, Dr. Susan Linn. - (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield. Dr. Seuss Memorial Sculpture Park, Springfield, MA)

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood writes:

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood has launched a campaign to “Save the Lorax!” from an onslaught of corporate cross-promotions.  For more than forty years, Dr. Seuss’s classic book, The Lorax, has been a clarion call for reducing consumption and promoting conservation.  But this Friday, Universal Pictures’ The Lorax arrives in theaters with dozens of corporate partners promoting everything from SUVs to Pottery Barn to Pancakes.  CCFC is urging anyone who cares about The Lorax’s original message to enjoy the story but pledge to shun the movie’s commercial tie-ins, including:

  • The new Mazda CX-5 SUV—the only car with the “Truffula Seal of Approval.”
  • Seventh Generation household products and diapers festooned with the Lorax.
  • IHOP’s kids’ menu items like Rooty Tooty Bar-Ba-Looty Blueberry Cone Cakes and Truffula Chip Pancakes.
  • In-store promotions featuring the Lorax at Whole Foods, Pottery Barn Kids, and Target.
  • Online Lorax games and sweepstakes for YoKids Yogurt, Comcast Xfinity TV, Target, IHOP, and HP.
  • HP’s “Every Inkling Makes a Difference,” a branded in-school curriculum produced and distributed by Scholastic.

“It is both cynical and hypocritical to use a beloved children’s story with a prescient environmental message to sell kids on consumption,” said CCFC’s director, Dr. Susan Linn.  “The Lorax that so many of us know and love would never immerse children in the false corporate narrative that we can consume our way to everything, from happiness to sustainability. Instead, The Lorax would join everyone who cares about children and the environment to give kids time and space to grow up free of commercial pressures.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Community Gathers to Discuss Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World

Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World
A Community Conversation

On Tuesday, February 7th, a group of parents, grandparents and childcare professionals came together for Hilltown Families’ Roundtable Discussion: Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World to discuss a variety of subjects related to the theme of creative free play in a commercialized world, a continuation of the presentation Hilltown Families hosted before the holidays with Dr. Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe and Consuming Kids.

COMMUNICATION

The roundtable was a lively discussion with a variety of perspectives and ideas for empowerment.  One point reiterated several times during the conversation was the importance of communication.  Caring about the impact of media on our kids and their growing minds, we need to talk to them about commercialization, helping them navigate our media saturated world by pointing out advertising and marketing strategies geared toward children. Proactive ways parents can communicate with their kids include watching the same TV shows/movies their children are watching, or exploring the internet with them, giving parents opportunities to find teachable moments and openings for engagement in dialog.

TEACHING

One idea that came out of our discussion on how parents can make their kids savvy to the marketing strategies of corporate marketers was to take a walk with them through a big box grocery store in search of movie or television characters on products placed at their eye level, then talk about why these characters are on these products in these locations.  Another idea was to choose non-commercial educational videos and apps for children when consuming media. Video series like the Liberty Kids to supplement Colonial Studies, or Bill Nye the Science guy to supplement science studies were suggested.

CREATIVE FREE PLAY

As always, the notion of involving children in real world activities as much as possible is the antidote to too much media consumption, and Hilltown Families provides a comprehensive list of events each week for families that supports this practice.  Providing opportunities for creative free play that enhances imagination is essential.  A recent event at a local family center utilizing empty boxes for play was a perfect example.  Ironically, allowing children to be bored can often lead to creative solutions.  Several parents related stories of the most creative play originating out of moments of boredom resulting in toilet paper roll towers or made up stories exercising the imagination.

OTHER TOPICS

Related subjects discussed included:

  • violence and inappropriate language in media
  • sexualization in media and the impact on girls
  • children who are not exposed to certain media feeling left out among peers
  • over-scheduling of childhood
  • older teens/young adults and the over-use of Facebook
  • tensions from protecting our children from the impacts of commercialization in a media saturated world versus creating opportunities for dialog and critical thinking

A couple of resources were recommended to empower parents with young girls who struggle with the challenges they face. The book Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and the New Realities of Girl World was recommended to parents with tween aged girls.   And the video from the Dove Self Esteem Campaign Ad “Evolution,” which shows how models are photoshopped, was suggested as a video to screen with girls (and boys) to illustrate how the current ideal of beauty is manufactured and promoted through media.

CONCLUSION

The discussion was concluded with an invitation to parents and professionals who have ideas/thoughts on how to empower our community and children on these topics to work with Hilltown Families to share and grow these ideas. Drop us an email at hilltownfamilies@gmail.com anytime.  And please continue to be part of the ongoing dialog about the importance of creative free play and helping our children navigate a commercialized world.  To receive updates and notices on events and opportunities on this topic, share with us your email and we will keep you posted:

Big thank you to Northampton Public Schools for co-sponsoring this month’s discussion, and to Cup & Top Cafe for hosting.

[Image credit: (ccl) Monette Enriquez]

Roundtable Discussion: Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World

A Community Conversation with Hilltown Families…

Roundtable Discussion: Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World
Tuesday, Feb 7th from 6-7:30pm in Florence, MA

Come together as a community on Tuesday, February 7th at 6pm in Florence, MA to casually discuss some of the challenges families and educators face in an age of rampant commercialism and ubiquitous technology, while brainstorming together on ideas and strategies for preserving non-commercialized creative free play for our children.

Hilltown Families will host a free informal roundtable discussion for parents, educators and community members interested in a dialogue about creative free play in a commercialized world on Tuesday, February 7th from 6-7:30pm at Cup & Top Cafe in Florence, MA, sponsored by Hilltown Families and the Northampton Public Schools.

  • WHAT: Roundtable Discussion on Creative Free Play in a Commercialized World: A Community Conversation with Hilltown Families
  • WHERE: Cup & Top Cafe, 1 North Main Street, Florence, MA
  • WHEN: Tuesday, Feb 7th, 2012, 6-7:30pm (Snow date: Feb. 21st)
  • COST: Discussion is Free. Dinner from Cup & Top is available through 6:30pm ($).
  • CONTACT: Hilltown Families, hilltownfamilies@gmail.com

On the heels of the holiday season, with another commercialized holiday approaching on Feb 14th (Valentine’s Day), Hilltown Families invites parents, educators and community members to come together to informally discuss some of the challenges we face in an age of rampant commercialism and ubiquitous technology, while brainstorming together on ideas and strategies for preserving non-commercialized creative free play for our children.  

This free roundtable discussion will take place at Cup & Top Cafe in Florence, MA. Participants are warmly welcomed to purchase dinner from the cafe through 6:30pm (gluten-free & nut-free options available).  Free childcare is available in the cafe’s playspace. To sign up for childcare, email hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

Hilltown Families roundtable discussions are part of a series of Community Conversations presented by Hilltown Families that invites the community to engage in conversations about raising healthy children including helping children develop a positive sense of self and empathy for others and the world around them.  This evenings roundtable discussion is a continuation of the presentation Hilltown Families hosted before the holidays with with Dr. Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe and Consuming Kids, and is co-sponsored by  the Northampton Public Schools/CFCE through a grant from the MA Department of Early Education and Care.

[Image credit: (ccl) Monette Enriquez]

The Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World

Hilltown Families presents…

The Importance of Creative Play
in a Commercialized World
A Community Conversation with Dr. Susan Linn
Tuesday, Nov 15th from 7-9pm
Meekins Library • Williamsburg, MA

Co-sponsored by the Media Education Foundation and the Odyssey Bookshop.

Hilltown Families presents “The Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World” with Dr. Susan Linn, author of The Case for Make Believe and Consuming Kids on Tuesday, November 15th from 7-9pm in the Hawks~Hayden Community Room at the Meekins Library, 2 Williams Street in Williamsburg, MA (FREE).

In the critically acclaimed Consuming Kids, Dr. Linn, the nation’s leading advocate for protecting children from corporate marketers, provided an unsparing look at modern childhood molded by commercialism. In her book, The Case for Make Believe, Dr. Linn argues that while play is crucial to human development and children are born with an innate capacity for make believe, the convergence of ubiquitous technology and unfettered commercialism actually prevents them from playing.

In an era when toys come from television and media companies sell videos as brain-builders for babies, Dr. Linn lays out the inextricable links between play, creativity, and health, showing us how and why to preserve the space for make believe that children need to be happy and to become productive adults. Dr. Linn will speak about her book and help generate ideas for preserving non-commercialized creative play, especially around the holidays. - Join us on Tuesday, Nov 15th from 7-9pm for a community conversation with Dr. Susan Linn in Williamsburg . (FREE)

This talk is free and open to all adults and older students studying the effects of commercialization and childhood development. A Q&A session will follow along with a book signing.  Titles will be available for sale on site in limited quantities.

Book Giveaway: We’re giving away a couple of copies of The Case for Make Believe to our readers. Find out how you can enter to win below.  Deadline to enter to win is November 14th by 12noon.

ABOUT DR. SUSAN LINN

Susan Linn, Ed.D. is co-founder and director of The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and an Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. An award-winning producer, writer, and puppeteer, she is the author of The Case for Make Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World, and Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood and lectures internationally on reclaiming childhood from corporate marketers. She has been featured on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, The Today Show, The Colbert Report and Good Morning America.  In 2006, she received the American Psychological Association’s Presidential Citation for her work on behalf of children. Dr. Linn lives in Brookline, MA.

ENTER TO WIN

A Q&A session will follow the talk and Hilltown Families invites the community to submit questions to Dr. Linn in advance about the importance of make believe and how to preserve creative play for our children. Submit your questions in the comment field below and be entered to win a copy of Dr. Linn’s book, The Case for Make Believe. Must include your full name and town to be eligible to win. We’ll randomly draw winners and will share the results below. Winner does not need to be present at the event to win.

Questions can also be submitted to hilltownfamilies@gmail.com.

This is the first in a series of Community Conversations presented by Hilltown Families that invite the community to engage in conversations on the themes of helping children connect to the good inside each of them and their development of empathy for others and the world around them.


❤  Thank you ❤ to our co-sponsors of “The Importance of Creative Play in a Commercialized World,” the Media Education Foundation and the Odyssey Bookshop.

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