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May 24, 2006

Contact:  Dr. Susan Linn (617.278.4282)

 

For Immediate Release

 

Statement of CCFC’s Dr. Susan Linn on the Kaiser Family Foundation’s New Report, “The Media Family: Electronic Media in the Lives of Infants, Toddlers, Preschoolers, and Their Parents

 

This report underscores the fact that parents need honest information about electronic media and its impact on children and their development.  The decision about how and when to introduce a child to screen media is an important one.  Given the stresses of modern family life, and the lack of support for parents and families, it’s understandable that parents are using screen media to help them cope.  But this is a short-term solution with long-term, potentially negative, implications for children’s health, behavior, and values.  Watching screen media can be habit-forming.  Hours of screen time are linked to childhood obesity, poor school performance, bullying, and less time spent engaged in creative play—the foundation of learning.   It is also primarily through screen media that companies target young children with marketing for junk food, junk toys, and the underlying message that they need brands in order to be happy.

 

That screen media is pervasive in the lives of young children does not mean that the public health community should join the media and marketing industries in misleading parents about its benefits.  Given what we know about its potential harms, the fact that 61% of babies under the age of 1 are watching screen media is not evidence that we need to create “better” TV for babies.  It’s evidence that we need to find ways to cut through deceptive marketing that suggests that television is educational for infants and help parents make informed decisions about their children’s media use.

 

The media and marketing industries need to be held accountable for the deceptive claims they make about the value of media for babies.  Parents need to know there is no evidence that television is beneficial for infants and growing concern it may be harmful.  And the public health community needs to unite in an effort to help parents find ways of coping and taking much-needed breaks without relying on screen media as a baby sitter. 

 

The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood is a national coalition of health care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and concerned parents who counter the harmful effects of marketing to children through action, advocacy, education, research, and collaboration among organizations and individuals who care about children.  CCFC supports the rights of children to grow up – and the rights of parents to raise them – without being undermined by rampant commercialism.  For more information, please visit: www.commercialfreechildhood.org

 

 

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