Civility Is Now Devalued — So What Will Adults Do About It?

If there is ever a time to emphasize ideas on civility, commenting, fact-checking, and media literacy, it’s during an election. Children, preadolescents, and teens will learn much during the 2016 presidential campaign just from all the watching. (Read my post The Children are Watching and Seeing, Listening and Hearing.)

Our traditional expectations for civility and ethical behavior are cracking apart right before our eyes.

On the basis of what’s happened at recent political conventions and the beginning of the election season, young people will be witnessing name calling, stereotyping, hateful comments, online hate, and in some cases veiled bodily threats. Kids will hear things on TV at home and on the televisions that are broadcasting in lounges, waiting rooms, doctor’s offices, and everywhere else. They will hear radios broadcasting the news at home and in other peoples’ homes. And, of course, there’s social media.

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The Media Is the Message for Our Children

Listen to a Los Angles CBS video about the story.

Listen to a Los Angles CBS video about the controversy and read the story.

In light of the extraordinary negative media messages about body image  in children’s lives, ensuring the strength and confidence of preadolescents and teens is a continuing challenge for parents and teachers. So much of the advertising markets thinness, popularity, sexuality, and one type of attractiveness, so it can be difficult for adults to counteract the effect of the of this pressure on a child.

Sometimes the entire ethos of a company emphasizes values that we do not want children in our care to adopt.

A distressing article over at the Huffington Post, A Message to Abercrombie’s CEO from a Former Fat Girl by Sara Taney Humphreys, highlights how one company has made exclusion, intentionally or otherwise, a part of its mission. Humpheys’ article isn’t about something that happened recently, but rather a quote from a 2006 Salon article about the CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch. While  the article is more than six years old, the comments are disturbing, especially given the number of children who like to shop at Abercrombie and the many others who struggle with body image. Below is a quote from the Salon article.

As far as Jeffries is concerned, America’s unattractive, overweight or otherwise undesirable teens can shop elsewhere. “In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he says. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely. Those companies that are in trouble are trying to target everybody: young, old, fat, skinny. But then you become totally vanilla. You don’t alienate anybody, but you don’t excite anybody, either.”

You can also listen to this ABC Chicago television story (after an airlines advertisement), including interviews with teenagers — many of whom can fit into the Abercrombie clothes but choose not to buy them. The teens are demonstrating at one of the stores in Chicago.

You might also want to look over the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) statement on media and children.

Parents Ask to Turn Off Movie: Cabin Crew Calls It a Security Risk?

I received this description about an unfortunate experience of a family traveling by commercial airline from the Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC), a not-for-profit children’s policy group that addresses and seeks to stop kids’ exposure to for-profit and exploitative commercial and media images. 

The parents in the story below were attempting to prevent their children from seeing violent images in the movie, Alex Cross, playing on the movie monitors — a perfectly sensible thing for parents of today’s digital kids to do. Common Sense Media offers this review of Alex Cross.

Click to get more information about CCFC.

Click to get more information about CCFC.

Seems like pretty poor customer service training and extreme lack of judgement on the part of the airline crew, if this type of request represents a security breach. The family had to waste time going through the ordeal of interrogation by law enforcement authorities in Chicago — authorities who, in turn, wasted their time questioning parents who were merely trying to protect their children from exposure to violent images. This took valuable time away from the real work of these law enforcement professionals — protecting us from violent criminals, but maybe the airline crew forgot this.

Here’s the story from CCFC.              Continue reading

Advertising With Kids as Targets

For several months I’ve been carrying around a New York Times article, How Advertising Targets Our Children, from the February 11, 2013 edition. Written by pediatrician Perri Klass the Well Blog post points out that recently published research links, even more strongly, the exposure of alcohol advertising to a child’s movement toward unhealthy behaviors.

Health Children Media Ed

Check out the Media Resources at HealthyChildren.org.

Dr. Klass writes about Exposure to Alcohol Advertisements and Teenage Alcohol-Related Problems (abstract), a Pediatrics article describing new research that finds a stronger association between unhealthy behaviors and the amount of advertising in the lives of children and adolescents. The researchers followed nearly 4,000 children in grades seven through ten.

Read the full text of the Pediatrics article.

In her article Klass quotes the researchers, experts from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy, and pediatrics professors from the Children’s Hospital at Stanford University who have studied the links between childhood obesity and screen time.

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