Take Action - Reclaim Childhood
Reclaim Childhood from Commercialization.
Today’s children are being bombarded with media, toys and products that reflect our fast-paced, sexualized, commercial culture. CEASE is working to maintain our children’s healthy development and understanding of their own identity.
- Reclaim Childhood
- NAEYC Board 2011
- NAEYC 2010
- NAEYC 2008
- NAEYC 2007
- Buy Me Busters
- Book Reviews
Reclaim Childhood from Commercialization.
Today’s children are being bombarded with media, toys and products that reflect our fast-paced, sexualized, commercial culture.
CEASE is working to maintain our children’s healthy development and understanding of their own identity. In 2007 and 2008 CEASE wrote to the NAEYC Governing Board about this.
CEASE also publishes a handout called “Buymebusters”, to help parents and teachers to develop ways to reduce children’s urges to have the latest toys.
Two books by CEASE members addressing these concerns are: “Taking Back Childhood: Helping Your Kids Thrive in a Fast-Paced, Media-Saturated, Violence-Filled World” by Nancy Carlsson-Paige and “So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids” by Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne.
May 27, 2011
Jerlean Daniel, Executive Director
Roberta Schomburg, Vice President
1313 L St., NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005-4101
Dear Dr. Daniel and Dr. Schomburg,
CEASE submits the following comments on the proposed draft of NAEYC’s Position Statement on Technology in Early Childhood Programs Serving Children from Birth to Age 8. We would appreciate it if you would forward this letter to all those working on the draft, including the other members of the Governing Board if they have seen the draft.
CEASE unites with the comments to be submitted by many of its members along with other individuals on May 31, 2011, at http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/pdf/naeycreply.pdf. We have been working with NAEYC on this topic for over 4 years, and we hope that the final position statement will reflect the views in those comments.
In addition, we have some of our own comments on the early May draft of the position statement that appear below. We would like to work with the drafters of the position statement to make it truly useful for early childhood professionals and parents.
1. CEASE recommends that the Position Statement should include specific advice in laymen’s language, easily comprehended by early childhood professionals, about the appropriate usage for each kind of technology in relation to each developmental stage of early childhood.
2. There needs to be a much clearer incorporation into appropriate contexts in this position statement of the recommendations of the existing Position Statement on Media Violence in Children’s Lives. NAEYC members look at technology in a holistic way, including the very significant negative effects of violence witnessed by young children on television, in DVD movies, and in video games (Wilson 2008). Early childhood professionals cannot judge the effects of using these kinds of technology without considering the violent content in their programming. NAEYC should spare them the effort of having to check two sources before making such decisions.
3. The draft misleads readers in the section labeled, ‘There are conflicting views about whether young children should have access to screen-based media.” The vague text in this section does not describe any conflict. The sources cited in this section are not about “whether” young children should have any access to screen technology, but rather about placing reasonable, research-based and age-dependent limits on the total daily amount of exposure to screen technologies, as well as limits on exposure to violence, sex, and commercial marketing during that exposure (Levin 1998). CEASE agrees strongly with the larger group’s comments that NAEYC should state its support for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommendations, and that appropriate limits on screen media usage for young children should be mentioned contextually throughout the position statement.
4. The draft fails to address the important role early childhood professionals have in advising parents about their own use of technology in the home as it affects their young children. Parents as well as early childhood professionals will be counting on NAEYC to guide them in the appropriate use and limits of screen technology for young children. Children bring to their early care and education settings all the technology-based experiences they have at home, and we who work with them every day often have to heal the damage that excessive or inappropriate exposure to technology at home has caused. The draft needs to help early childhood educators in that work.
5. The draft only hinted at the negative developmental implications of habitual technology usage as it interferes in the development of genuine, face-to-face, nonverbal relationships between infants, their caregivers and others. When an adult uses screen technology to distract an infant, or when that adult cannot focus her or his entire attention on the infant because of interruptions due to instant messages, twitters, e-mails, phone calls, or background television, this interference with the attachment relationship is likely to have negative long-term implications for the infant (Christakis 2009). This is a growing problem in infant care in our technology-saturated society. This concern is yet another reason for NAEYC to endorse the AAP recommendation about infants.
6. The draft needs to distinguish much more clearly between the adult uses of technology, which can improve professional practice substantially, and children’s use of technology only when developmentally and contextually appropriate. The financial cost of buying and maintaining technology needs to be expressed as a major factor in decisions about its use. Not every child or teacher needs an iPad.
John Surr, for CEASE
Christakis, D. "The effects of infant media usage: What do we know and what should we learn?" Acta Paediatrica, 2009: 8-16.
Levin, D. Remote Control Childhood: Combating the hazards of media culture. Washington, DC: NAEYC, 1998.
Wilson, B. J. "Media and Children's Aggression, Fear and Altruism." The Future of Children 18, no. 1 (Spring 2008): 87-114, at 107.
June 29, 2010
Jerlean Daniel, Executive Director Designate
1313 L St. NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC, 20005-4101
Subject: Proposed Revision of NAEYC’s Technology Position Statement
CEASE at its annual retreat has asked me to forward to you our response to NAEYC’s invitation for comments on its proposed revisions to its technology position statement. We do agree that the existing position statement needs revision. We are concerned, however, that the scope of the revision is too narrow.
We strongly believe, as we have communicated to you since 2007, that NAEYC must adopt a general position statement on the media and its effects on young children. We hope that this can be done either as part of the current effort relating to technology or as and independent position statement. The electronic media now includes not only the “computers, software, cameras, mp3 players and video recorders” referred to on your comments page, but also many other forms such as texting, social media, DVD/CD players, electronic games, smart phones, cell phones, etc. A major factor in CEASE’s concern about all these electronic media is that addictive involvement in them by both adults and children detracts from the personal interactions that young children need for growth.
At the 2009 NAEYC Annual Conference the CEASE/Violence in the Lives of Children Interest Forum sponsored a seminar entitled “Media On, Media Off: Ways to Promote Children’s Positive Development”. Even though the topic was about media, the participants’ responses were directly linked to technology. The participants shared their views extensively about making sense of media, using media appropriately, and helping families discover and use alternatives to media. Please see the attached article from our Newsletter for more details.
John Surr, for CEASE
July 20, 2008
Dr. Mark Ginsberg, Executive Director
1515 L St., NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005-4101
CEASE wants to express its thanks to you and the NAEYC Governing Board for having media and technology as a focus of the recent Professional Development Institute in New Orleans. Diane Levin, Susan Linn, Joan Almon, and others gave us glowing reports of the active interest among participants in these topics. A focus on the media brings NAEYC to the cutting edge of education and culture as it affects young children and those who help them grow. The interest in these topics expressed in New Orleans lead us to the suggestions below.
CEASE proposes that NAEYC add to its Annual Conferences a strand or track about media education for young children, their families and their teachers, beginning in 2009. The PDI experience reveals the depth of the interest, research, resources, and practices available to help NAEYC members cope successfully with the rewards and challenges of 21st Century media. We know that NAEYC members are seeking to participate much more in the ongoing work in this area. They want information. They want guidelines.
This new focus of attention will help the NAEYC staff and Governing Board in your continuing work to develop organizational positions and activities relating to the media and young children. CEASE hopes that this work will push forward rapidly, and that it will include all aspects, both the rewards and the perils, of electronic media as they affect young children. CEASE and its members would like to do whatever we can to help you at NAEYC in this work. Please feel free to call on me and other CEASE members.
Cc: S. Russell, J. Daniels, B. McGeehan, P. Pizzolongo, A. Robinson
January 12, 2007
Mark Ginsberg, Executive Director, and Jerlean Daniel, Deputy Executive Director
National Association for the Education of Young Children
1313 L St., NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005-4101
Dear Mark and Jerlean,
CEASE undertook at the Atlanta Conference to provide the NAEYC Staff with a briefing paper on the issues that we wanted to have the Governing Board consider in the context of their review of NAEYC’s policy and procedures on Position Papers at its March 2007 meeting in Washington. That briefing paper is enclosed. We would like to have the Governing Board consider its three recommendations, based on the research described in the paper. Those recommendations are:
A. “Keep your eyes on the prize”:
CEASE recommends that NAEYC should work continually to support its mission, its vision, and its strategic objectives in all of its policies, practices and actions, such as its acceptance of advertising and exhibits.
B. Identify War as a Form of Violence Harming Young Children:
CEASE urges NAEYC, as soon as possible, to:
- Recognize publicly that war (including the current war being conducted with American troops in Iraq) is harmful to young children, and
- Implement that recognition in its policies and actions.
C. Recognize and Act on the Effects of Electronic Media on Young Children’s Growth:
CEASE encourages the NAEYC Governing Board to decide to have a Position Statement prepared and action taken on the Role of Electronic Media in the Lives of Young Children. Such a Position Statement is needed to cover a number of important media-related developmental issues involving public policy. Among these are:
- The amount of time young children spend in front of a video monitor instead of with real people and nature,
- The participation of parents or teachers in that viewing time,
- The adult or developmentally inappropriate content of the programs to which the children are exposed before they are ready for them developmentally,
- The saturation of young children with advertising, especially through electronic media.
Although I am not an expert in research on the issues covered by these recommendations, I did get some help in preparing this paper from Diane Levin, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, and other members of CEASE who know far more about them than I do. The recommendations have been approved by CEASE for submission to the NAEYC Governing Board. It’s up to you whether to forward the briefing paper to them. We plan to provide some Board members with individual copies before the Board meeting if you do not. I would like to attend the Governing Board’s discussion of these issues in March, and there may be other CEASE members in town then who would accompany me.
Cc: Adele Robinson, CEASE
Buy Me Busters
Help to counteract the effects of media marketing on children.
"Buy Me Busters Ideas" is a list of suggestions that can be used to reduce or deflect a child's urges for the latest advertised toy. CEASE offers these suggestions to help parents in an effort to counteract the effects of media marketing on their children. "Buymebusters" may be copied and distributed freely. Have an idea you would like to share? Send it to CEASE info(at)peaceeducators.org
"Buy Me Busters Resources" is a list of organizations and publications for parents working to reduce or deflect a child's urges for the latest advertised toy. CEASE offers these resources to help parents in an effort to counteract the effects of media marketing on their children. "Buymebusters" may be copied and distributed freely. Have an idea you would like to share? Send it to CEASE info(at)peaceeducators.org
"Buymebusters" may be downloaded and distributed freely.
Have an idea you would like to share with others?
Share it with CEASE, email@example.com
to read a review click on the book
Taking Back Childhood: Helping your kids thrive in a fast-paced, media-saturated, violence-filled world. TOP
(April 2008) by Nancy Carlsson-Paige. Hudson Street Press.
Nancy’s book addresses my deepest concerns for my grandchildren and their mom and dad who face unprecedented challenges as parents. Nancy, a CEASE member and Lesley professor of early childhood education and conflict resolution, offers a practical and inspiring guide for parents on how to provide a safe, caring and nonviolent childhood within the context of this complex and challenging, and sometimes harmful world of ours. Nancy’s book not only acknowledges the many social forces and unhealthy trends in our modern world, she also provides insights into what is critical to healthy growth and development. What makes this book valuable to me is that Nancy not only writes with the authority of her extensive research and understanding of child development theory, but she also writes from her lived experience as a mother and grandmother long devoted to compassionate parenting. Nancy advises parents on how to resist marketing directed toward children that undermines their parental values; how to challenge the violence and racial and ethnic stereotyping depicted in the myriad forms of media; and how to be cognizant of and resistant to the current trend to over structure children’s time. Most importantly, in Taking Back Childhood, Nancy provides encouragement and practical guidelines on how to afford children the essentials for healthy growth and development –reclaim and promote creative play, foster a sense of security and competence in today’s often frightening world, and form loving and meaningful relationships with both adults and other children. Chapter 11, “Small Acts, Big Changes” offers a wide range of ways that we can join together to advocate for change on a larger scale than our own families. I encourage readers to join others on children’s behalf and, as the author states, “. . . bring into being a society and world that truly does nurture and nourish the young.”
Both books can be purchased at www.amazon.com
Submitted by CEASE Fall Packet Editor, Sharon Davisson
So Sexy So Soon: The new sexualized childhood and what parents can do to protect their kids TOP
(August 2008) by Diane E. Levin and Jean Kilbourne. Ballantine Books.
CEASE member and Wheelock professor of education, Diane Levin and Jean Kilbourne, an authority on advertising, have written an invaluable and practical guide for parents who are overwhelmed by the impact of the media on children and teens. The authors explain that today’s children spend more time involved with electronic media than doing anything else but sleeping. Disturbingly, sexual content is infused throughout much of the advertising and media they see (including TV programs, videos and computer games and the Internet). The authors write that the focus of advertising serves the interests of manufacturers and marketers, but is very harmful to children. The authors explain that products marketed to girls encourage them to focus on their bodies (being skinny) and appearances (being “sexy” or “hot”), and that provocative clothing is commonly marketed to very young girls. Boys are taught to be tough, strong and ready to fight, while girls are urged to focus on makeup and accessories.
The authors emphasize that children today are learning very narrow definitions of gender and sexuality that focuses primarily on appearances. We are reminded that young children should have positive, age-appropriate experiences that lay the foundation for healthy sexual relationships in the future rather than learn to treat themselves and others as objects. Diane and Jean offer parents essential, practical and age-appropriate strategies to counter this media assault. The authors state “We must work at all levels to create a society that supports parents’ efforts to raise healthy children, instead of one that makes their job harder at every turn.” I especially appreciate how the authors provided knowledge, skills and most importantly, confidence for parents to enable them to discuss this sensitive topic openly and effectively and to take action to create a safe and healthy environment for their children.
Diane Levin’s “Teaching Young Children in Violent Times: Building a Peaceable Classroom TOP
Levin, a teacher and a therapist calls for the creation of a "peaceable classroom" to counteract the overpowering effect of violence in the media and community. Before offering her own solution for teachers and parents, she examines how violence in entertainment, news, and neighborhoods affects small children. Specifics on role-playing, group discussions, puppetry, and peaceful games are spelled out. Appended are relevant official statements from the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Concerned Educators Allied for a Safe Environment and a commentary on the Power Rangers. The second edition of this highly acclaimed book is a must for early childhood educators, parents, and policy makers. It helps teachers create a Peaceable Classroom where children learn peaceful alternatives to the violent behaviors modeled for them in society. This extensively revised and updated edition features new material for a post-September 11th world including a new chapter on helping children deal with violence in the news. This new edition is an essential resource for anyone who works with children. (from www.amazon.com)
Susan Hopkins’ “Hearing Everyone’s Voice, Educating Young Children for Peace and Democratic Community. TOP
Children recognize conflict, injustice, and bias; but they need to be taught how to sort out their concerns and take action to bring about fairness for all. In Hearing Everyone's Voice, teachers and parents and children share stories of their struggles to build a democratic community by learning the many ways there are to hear each other given differences in age, ethnicity, gender, culture, and economic background. This is the perfect guidebook for integrating peace education, anti-bias perspective, and democratic practice into your curriculum.