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The Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC) focus on researching the impact of commercialism on children, explained Josh Golin, executive director of CCFC. Starting in the mid-1980s, marketing started to be directed at our children. The CCFC, founded in 2000, advocates for companies to stop marketing directly to our children. Luckily, they have been successful in many of their efforts.

Josh showed attendees examples of the ways in which various companies have infiltrated the places where children “hang out” online (YouTube, social media) and through TV, movies and video games, and how it is all paired with consumerism, offering merchandise in strategic ways. We saw how advertising used to “speak” to parents. Now, advertisement is speaking directly to children, knowing that children are often left unsupervised while on their screens.

Josh explained how this exposure can impact children in negative ways. It can shape their:

  • personalities,
  • physical health,
  • capacity for empathy,
  • ability to have successful face to face interactions with other humans,
  • attention spans,
  • creative thinking, and
  • ability to appreciate differences in people and across cultures.

He shared tips about how to recognize media addiction (e.g., look for signs of the screen time “displacing” children’s healthier activities like playing outdoors, attending family meals and interacting face to face with friends) and how we might prevent it (e.g., no computers in private areas like bedrooms where the door can be shut and child is isolated with the screen time.)

Josh spoke about the historical regulations around advertisement towards children. He explained how during the Reagan administration, regulations around advertising directly to children were lifted. The influence big corporations have to alter regulations in their favor has become more prevalent.

If you are interested in learning more about CCFC, subscribe to their mailing list here.

Summary by Linda Wrinn