February 17, 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Susan Linn, EdD (617) 232-8390 x 2328
Diane Levin, PhD (617) 879-2167
Child Development Expert Barred from Hasbro Exhibit at Toy Fair
Professor Diane Levin of Wheelock College, a well-known expert on children
and play and a co-founder of the coalition to Stop Commercial Exploitation
of Children (SCEC) was barred from the Hasbro exhibit at the International
Toy Fair yesterday because she signed a letter to Tom Conley, president of the
Toy Industry of America. The letter from the SCEC Steering Committee
expressed concerns about toys marketed to children that promote junk food,
violence, precocious sexuality, and adult media.
Among the toys mentioned in the letter was Hasbro's Play Doh McDonald's
Restaurant, recommended by Hasbro for children three and up. SCEC's letter
to Mr. Conley describes the toy as, "A Play-Doh kit with molds for making
burgers, buns, fries and shakes. The molds take control of play away from
children and undermine creativity. Toys linked to fast food restaurants
focus children's play on foods high in fat, sugar, salt and calories. In doing so,
they promote poor nutrition. While they may help create brand loyalty
from an early age, they can contribute to obesity and eating disorders, a
growing problem for children."
Professor Levin was scheduled to visit the exhibit with Boston Globe columnist
Barbara Meltz, who is writing a story on toys that facilitate children's
play. Wayne Charness, Senior Vice President for Corporate Communications
at Hasbro, phoned Ms. Meltz and informed her that because Professor Levin
signed the letter, she would not be allowed in the Hasbro exhibit.
Professor Levin said, "Since the Boston Globe story is about toys at that are
good for children, I am shocked that Hasbro would not let me in the exhibit
because of SCEC's letter. I think that Hasbro and other toy manufacturers
need to hear how the toys they market affect children's growth and development."
Harvard psychologist Susan Linn, another signatory, said she hoped
the letter would start a dialogue between child development experts and toy manufacturers.
"Unfortunately," Dr. Linn noted, "Hasbro seems more
intent on retaliating against Professor Levin than discussing what's good
The other toys described in SCEC's letter are: Lil' Bratz Fashion Doll
Yasmin (MGA Entertainment), Stretch 'n Roar Hulk (Toy Biz), and
Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines Figure: Arnold (McFarlane Toys).
The letter, and links to the toys, can be found at:
Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children is a coalition of health
care professionals, educators, advocacy groups and parents who counter
the effects of marketing to children through education, advocacy and research.