Author: Jacques Brodeur, November 23 2016 - Edupax seizes the opportunity of the 27th anniversary of the Convention to remind readers about various and important benefits of protecting children from material injurious to their health and well-being. Back in 1980, the Government of the Province of Québec, Canada, has banned advertising targeting children. During the last 40 years, Québec has been --and is still-- the only jurisdiction in North America, along with only a handful in the world, that dared protecting its children from marketers' appetite. Benefits have been evaluated by researchers in Vancouver (BC) and Illinois in 2011 and one year later, results were revealed to the public in the NY Times. Children in Québec have been found to be amongst the less obese kids in Canada. Protecting children from harmful material has shown to be beneficial to the health of the future generations. The Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME) is among the very few organisations in North America to remind educators about the history and benefits. The lesson is good for all governments around the world.
The date 20 November marks the day on which the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.(1) In 2016, the Convention will celebrate its 27th anniversary.(2) The UN recommended the Day to be observed as a day of activity devoted to promoting the ideals and objectives of the Charter and the welfare of the children of the world.
The Convention was the most widely and most rapidly ratified international human rights treaty ever. Only two countries have not yet ratified.
It sets out a number of children’s rights including the right to life, to health, to education and to play, as well as the right to family life, to be protected from violence, to not be discriminated, and to have their views heard.
Universal Children's Day (UCD) is a day to bring awareness to children around the globe that have succumbed to violence in forms of abuse, exploitation, and discrimination. On the basis of the Convention and joint effort by all the countries and regions, the UN invites us to promote and celebrate children’s right on the Universal Children's Day, and continuously build up a living-friendly environment for children in the world through dialogues and actions. Invitation to commemorate UCD is posted on the Government of Québec,(3) the government of Canada(4) and Unicef-Canada.(5) According to State parties to the Convention, "the child, by reason of his physical and mental immaturity, needs special safeguards and care, including appropriate legal protection (…)."(6)
REASONS TO CELEBRATE
In the context of North America, Edupax focuses attention on provisions of Article 17 of the Convention:
States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health. To this end, States Parties shall: (e) Encourage the development of appropriate guidelines for the protection of the child from information and material injurious to his or her well-being.
How many TV programs could contravene to this small and apparently benign criteria?
Never before in the history of humankind, had people been soaked in such a deep and wide media ocean, controlled by professional marketers who tell parents what’s for good their children, using sophisticated technology more and more seductive and pervasive. Screen-entertainment professionals get paid to use most recent knowledge in neurology and psychology to make «brain time availability»(7) increase so it can be sold to marketers. Facing such constant harassment, young brains are easy vulnerable preys. The appetite of industries doing business in the fields of digital entertainment and marketing, does not tolerate any obstacle nor limit. Nobody, and no government, can regulate their thirst, which obeys only one supreme authority: Market Regulation. In such a context, only education, including media education, can actually help rescue youth. Who else can block access to modern & powerful child abusers for whom mental and physical health of kids and teens worth nothing. All around us, more adolescents (and their parents) search for treatment against nomophobia,(8) or reduce risk of digital dementia.(9) Addiction to social networks, video games and pornography are real, profound and damages are long-lasting.10)
Edupax offers schools and families interactive presentations and educational activities all linked with education, freedom, and Solidarity.
Edupax seize the opportunity of the 18th anniversary of the Convention to remind readers about various and important benefits of protecting children from material injurious to their health and well-being.
Protecting children from marketing
Back in 1980, the Government of the Province of Québec, Canada, has banned advertising targeting children. The marketing industry fought the ban arguing that it denied its freedom of speech but the Supreme Court of Canada disagreed. During the last 40 years, Québec has been --and is still-- the only jurisdiction in North America, along with only a handful in the world, that dared protecting its children from marketers' appetite. Benefits have been evaluated by researchers in Vancouver (BC) and Illinois in 2011(11) and results were revealed to the public one year later by the NY Times.(12) Children in Québec have been found to be among the less obese kids in Canada.(13) Protecting children from harmful material has shown to be beneficial to the health of the future generations. The Action Coalition for Media Education (ACME) is among the very few organisations –if not the only-- in North America to remind educators about the history and benefits of protecting kids from advertizing.(14) The lesson is good not only for North Americans, but for all governments across the world.
Edupax also invites parents to consider tips by French psychologist Sabine Duflo who recommends to help kids growing «step by step» (Grandir pas à pas).(15)
Edupax denounces the use of violence to catch children's attention and keep them glued to screens. Cartoons are still among the most violent programs on TV. Social networks are common vehicles of defamation, as a cruel mental form of violence. Despite denial by the media and some consumers, the impact of violent entertainment is real, it is known and fully documented by scientists in Québec and abroad.
Screen Material that Research Found to Be Potentially Harmful to Children
Dr Linda Pagani, University of Montréal. Canadian researcher found that toddlers who watch more TV have higher risk of more aggressive and antisocial behavior toward other students at age 13.(16) These conclusions of Dr Pagani confirm previous study conclusions published in July 2015 showing correlation between amount of time spent watching television by 2 year olds and the probability of becoming victim of bullying at age 9.(17)
Lt-Col David Grossman,(18) considers violent video games as murder simulators. They are used by the army to facilitate the act of killing (conditioning) in combat situation. He writes «that by allowing kids to play interactive "point-and-shoot" video games, there is significant concern that society is aping military conditioning, but without the vital safeguard of discipline. Strong evidence indicates that civilian application of combat conditioning techniques as entertainment may be a factor in worldwide, skyrocketing violent crime rates, including a sevenfold increase in per capita aggravated assaults in America since 1956.» Data from over a dozen countries show that serious aggression rates have also increased in Europe and other regions of the world.(19)
Dr Kimberly Young has founded The Center for Internet Addiction in 1995. It provides treatment for Internet addiction using specialized Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Internet addiction. It is the first evidenced-based Digital Detox™ recovery program in the US. Dr Young has been fighting various forms of Internet addiction since 1995, including video games, social networks, pornography. During the last 20 years, she authored many books and blog giving parents advices about how to diagnose Net Addiction, how to prevent it, how to heal it.(20)
UNESCO has organised two conferences linking Internet with terrorism. «The link needs to be seen in light of the increasingly blended off-line and on-line lives, especially of young women and men, which increases the need to address the ICT-related dimensions of youth radicalization and extremism leading to violence. Building on existing initiatives, UNESCO and the Government of Quebec have organized, from October 30th to November 1st 2016, an international conference of high level experts entitled Internet and the radicalization of youth: Preventing, Acting and Living together.»(21) Previous conference organized by UNESCO on this subject was held in June 2015 at its Headquarters in Paris. Youth and the Internet: Fighting Radicalization and Extremism.(22)
Dr Victor Strasburger, at University of New Mexico, reviewed 60 years of research on the impact of violent entertainment on attitudes and behaviorS.(23) Well over a thousand of studies have found a link beween what kids watch and how they act. The negative impact of video games is even more dramatic.(24) Conclusions of Dr Strasburger reach those of almost unanimous conclusion of the scientific community, including those from Dr Douglas Gentile.(25)
Dr Craig Anderson and Dr Brad Bushman have studied the impact of violent video games.
«A meta-analytic review of the video-game research literature reveals that violent video games increase aggressive behavior in children and young adults. Experimental and nonexperimental studies with males and females in laboratory and field settings support this conclusion. Analyses also reveal that exposure to violent video games increases physiological arousal and aggression-related thoughts and feelings. Playing violent video games also decreases prosocial behavior.»(26)
The cost of exposure to media violence keeps growing. «In a culture of electronic violence, images that once caused us to empathize with the pain and trauma of another human being excite a momentary adrenaline rush. To be numb to another's pain, --to be acculturated to violence-- is arguably one of the worst consequences our technological advances has wrought. That indifference transfers from the screen, TV, film, Internet, and electronic games to our everyday lives through seemingly innocuous consumer technology. (pp 90-91)Do studies support the notion of desensitization? The answer is an unqualified yes. Research shows quite clearly that physiological arousal becomes lessened with continued exposure to media violence.»(27)
Edupax invites teachers to sharpen critical judgment of their students by using debatable problems and writing activity.(28)
Edupax, organisme sans but lucratif avec expertise en éducation médiatique, prévention de la violence, promotion d'une consommation numérique éclairée
(1) United Nations. http://www.un.org/en/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/44/25
(2) Children's Day. United Nations http://www.un.org/en/events/childrenday/
(3) Journée mondiale des enfants, ministère de la Famille et des Aînés, Gouvernement du Québec. https://www.mfa.gouv.qc.ca/fr/Famille/developpement_des_enfants/journee_mondiale_enfance/Pages/index.aspx
(4) Public Health Agency of Canada. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/ncd-jne/index-eng.php
(5) Unicef-Canada. http://www.unicef.ca/en/our-work/article/celebrate-national-child-day
(7) What TV Sells To Coca-Cola Is Available Human Brain Time. Patrick Lelay, June 2007.
(8) Scientists Study Nomophobia—Fear of Being without a Mobile Phone. Scientific American.
(9) What Exactly is Digital Dementia. European Lifelong Learning Magazine, ELM, September, 2015.
(10) Internet Addiction Changes Brain Similar to Heroin. Addiction Advisor, February 2016.
(11) Ban on Advertising to Children Linked to Lower Obesity Rates, Catherine Musemeche, NY Times, July 2012. http://parenting.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/ban-on-advertising-to-chil...
(12) Fast-Food Consumption and the Ban On Advertising to Children Linked to Lower Obesity Rates: The Quebec Experience, U of Illinois, 2011. http://works.bepress.com/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1034&context=kathy_baylis
(13) Map of Canada and the US according to obesity rates in States and Provinces.
14) In the Name of Freedom, Advertising That Targets Children Must Become Illegal, ACME, May 2015. https://acmesmartmediaeducation.net/2015/05/28/advertising-to-children-i...
(15) Children grow step by step. Les enfants grandissent PAS À PAS. Sabine Duflo, psychologist in Paris suburb. http://www.edupax.org/images/stories/edupax/PDF/Depliant-enfant-Deux.pdf
(16) Research by Dr Linda Pagani, U of Montréal, 2016. http://nouvelles.umontreal.ca/en/article/2016/09/13/associations-between...
(17) Study report by Dr Linda Pagani, U of Montréal, 2015. http://nouvelles.umontreal.ca/en/article/2015/07/17/toddlers-who-chill-i...
(18) Aggression and violence, The use of video games to train military to kill. Lt.Col. David Grossman, Killology. http://www.killology.com/aggression-and-violence
(19) Serious Assaults increase in the US and various countries, between 1957 & 2006.
(20) Net Addiction. Dr Kimberly Young, list of books and blogs about various forms of net addiction, how to diagnose it, hot to heal it. http://netaddiction.com/blog/
(21) Quebec hosts Unesco conference on prevention of radicalization of young people. Global News, October 31st, 2016.
(22) Youth & Internet: Fighting Radicalization & Extremism, Unesco June 2015. http://en.unesco.org/youth-and-internet-fighting-radicalization-and-extr...
(23) Television Violence: 60 Years of Research, Chapter 5, Victor Strasburger & Barbara Wilson, March 2016. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/307970395_Media_Violence_Strasb...
(24) The New Media of Violent Video Games: Yet Same Old Media Problems. Victor C. Strasburger, Clinical Pediatrics, July 2014 http://cpj.sagepub.com/content/53/8/721
(25) Media Violence and Children: Complete Guide for Parents and Professionals, 2008. http://drdouglas.org/book1.html
(26) Effects of Violent Video Games on Aggressive Behavior, Aggressive Cognition, Aggressive Affect, Physiological Arousal, and Prosocial Behavior: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Scientific Literature. Psychological Science. Craig Anderson and Brad Bushman, Iowa State University. http://pss.sagepub.com/content/12/5/353
(27) Media Violence and Children. Media Violence and Desensitization. Victor Strasburger, Barnara Wilson, Douglas Gentile, Research Gate, page 161. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/307970395_Media_Violence_Strasburger_Wilson_Gentile_book_2016
(28) Situations d'écriture, 2005. (Writing activity) http://data.edupax.org/precede/public/Assets/divers/documentation//4_defi/outils/Situations2005.htm
Further reading for teachers and students
(29) Media Violence Fact Sheet, Stop Youth Violence. Southern California Academic Center of Excellence on Youth Violence Prevention, U. of California, Riverside, 2010. http://stopyouthviolence.ucr.edu/factsheets/FACTSHEET%20MediaViolenceRev...
(30) Protecting Children from Media Violence. Report sent to UN Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children. Promising Practices Experienced and Developed by North American Civil Society
(31) Call to Action for UN Secretary General Study on Violence Against Children. Edupax http://data.edupax.org/precede/public/Assets/divers/campagne/Etude_SG/SG...
(32) Promising Practices to Protect Children From the Increasing Power of Big Media. Project Censored 2008, Chapter 11. http://www.comminit.com/democracy-governance/content/promising-practices...
(33) Media Violence, Why Is It Used to Abuse Children? How to Oppose It and Win. http://www.comminit.com/democracy-governance/content/media-violence-why-...
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