Author: 
Jacques Brodeur
Publication Date
January 1, 2007
2007
Affiliation: 

Edupax

This chapter of the publication Censored2008, The Top 25 Censored Stories of 2006-2007, from Media Democracy in Action, discusses strategies to oppose what the article characterises as "child-abusing techniques used by the marketing industry" in their promotion of violent entertainment to children and teens. The author states that the increasing power of the media on public opinion has limited action that might regulate television for children. He states that the "handful of conglomerates now control[ing] 85 percent of the media" decide what and how both programming and advertising will be presented to children, which should, as stated here, inspire resistance in parents, teachers, child rights advocates, and citizens. The aim of the article is to present some under-reported promising practices from the United States (US) and Canada to counter the presence of violence in children's media.


Legislation is described in the article as the best way to protect children from abuse by marketing professionals. The author compares the process of legislating to protect the media environment of children to legislation for environmental protections. He lists Greece, Sweden, and Quebec among the few countries or states that have succeeded in regulating marketing that is focused on children. The article describes the 1976 Quebec ban on marketing to children. When challenged in court, the law was judged to be constitutional because it doesn’t prohibit the advertising of products made for children. It prohibits advertising directed to persuade children and has the goal of preventing their manipulation for the motive of financial profit. The decision describes how children are vulnerable to marketing and why it is within provincial or state jurisdiction to protect children. The author describes a study done 15 years after the enactment of the legislation, comparing television programming in a city that is not part of the legislated children's television marketing regulation area and programming in a city that is a part of the regulated area. The study, as stated here, showed richer, more diverse, and better quality programming in Quebec, the regulated area, and showed that less than 10 percent of the Quebec children's audience chose to watch US television programming (available, but unregulated by the Quebec legislation.)


The author describes short-, mid-, and long-term effects of television viewing on children, from studies by the Canadian and American Academies of Pediatrics. Effects include obesity, body image and eating disorders, self-esteem difficulties, violent crime, physical and verbal abuse tendencies, smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity, compulsive consumerism, and perilous driving tendencies.


The author states that censorship by commerce (media and marketing choosing to produce and air that which markets products effectively to children) results in "cultural messages strained through a commercial filter which uses gratuitous violence as an industrial ingredient to keep viewers tuned in, ratings high, and profits up." He also describes how corporate conglomerates promote the kind of media literacy that deflects blame from the media to parents. However, there is a list of empowering practices for parents and civil society advocates for children. These include wide mobilisation of coalitions of parents, educators, health professionals, grassroots organisations, and activists who will advocate for legislation. Another practice is the improvement of parental awareness by, for example, the SMART Program, a US-based programme for media and marketing awareness. The '10-Day Challenge: TV- and Video Game-Free' is a campaign-style programme used as a motivational tool and community mobiliser in schools to raise awareness of the effects of media on children. The importance of parent acceptance and support of the TV-free challenge is emphasised, coupled with teacher training and follow-up, community promotional activities, and conferences with parents. Media promotion of these programmes, described here as engaging communities in media literacy education, could, as observed by the author, "contribute to youth violence prevention in the global community."

Source: 

Google Book Search website and email from Jacques Brodeur on August 6 2008.