Susan Linn Play

I don’t want to waste the time I just spent reacquainting myself with on-line Childhood, Corporations and Susan Linn links. Her Consuming Kids was impressive and web materials you find googling her should be useful. I’ve been lending out my Japanese version of Juliette Schor’s Born To Buy but don’t know if Consuming Kids is available in Japanese. I’ll have to find a Japanese book review that’s as helpful as this one on Born To Buy (Kodomo Wo Nerae! Target the Children!) I consider these book crucial to put together a child-rearing survival guide in a world of corporate media. Schor and Linn will motivate you to attend every Nature Game and Community Event you can fit into your schedule – even some you shouldn’t try to jam in there.

Here’s a Susan Linn Intro

Linn is a ventriloquist, among other things. She started as a child, performed on the street corners of Boston and eventually moved on to the Smithsonian and even Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.A  She eventually used her skills and education to become a puppet therapist at Boston Children’s Hospital.

In addition to being the cofounder and director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, Linn is the Associate Director of the Media Center at Judge Baker Children’s Center and Instructor in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

    In a culture where glitz is mistaken for substance and pundits tout the bells and whistles of technology as a panacea for most of life’s ills, children more than ever need the time, space, tools, and silence essential for developing their capacities for curiosity, creativity, self-reflection, and meaningful engagement in the world. Yet in today’s United States, society on all levels conspires to keep children from playing; in a market-driven society, creative play is a bust. It just isn’t lucrative.

Does she sound cool or what? Ventriloquist turned PHd. That’s like Fall of the House of Labor guy, trucker to PHD, or Mike Davis..

Here’s a Multinational Monitor Interview.

Linn: I think it’s either naive or disingenuous to believe that one family in isolation can combat a $17 billion industry working day and night to undermine parental authority, and to bypass parents and target children directly with messages that usually aren’t good for them.

Parents do have a responsibility to work to protect their children from the onslaught of advertising and marketing, but they can’t do it alone.

Linn: Before I talk about what parents can do in their individual families, I want to stress that marketing to children is a societal problem and we all need to be working for societal change. That’s why my colleagues and I founded the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood,  because children have a right to grow up and parents have a right to raise them without being undermined by commercial interests. In fact, CCFC now has over 20,000 people on its email list and we’ve been able to successfully pressure multinational corporations like McDonald’s, Disney and Kellogg’s to change some of their more egregious marketing practices.

In addition to working on commercialism directly, we also need to work to ensure safe outdoor spaces in which children can play, provide good day care and after-school care that’s free of screen time, and we need to end advertising and marketing to kids, and advertising and marketing in schools.

That said, societal change takes time, and there are things that we can do with our own children. First of all, we need to come to terms with our own relationship with commercialism and to materialistic values. It’s only when we know ourselves and where we stand, that we can help children cope. We need to set limits for screen time for older children and to keep babies and toddlers away from screens all together. We need to provide our children with time and space for unstructured creative play, and we need to get them outdoors. Nature is a good antidote for commercialism. So is altruism. We can get kids actively involved in community service and help them embrace, from an early age, the value of working for the public good.

It’s hard to do these things alone, so it’s helpful if parents actively seek out other parents with similar values so that you can support each other. Getting involved in social, political, or spiritual networks can be helpful.

This made me think of Kurt Vonnegut’s advice to join a gang (interview) and Noam Chomsky on getting involved. You can find groups working on issues that concern you – get out into the ‘public sphere’ and if you have kids any way to combine activism with being a decent parent helps a lot.(It’s efficient but you don’t think of it that way.)

Some countries actually limit corporate commercial acces to children – beyon smoking Camels. In Japan children are trained to be shallow consumers from before age one. You think Anpan Man (Sweet Bean Paste Bread Man) with the jolly edible face and insiduosly easy pronunciation is innocuous, even the nursery school teachers instruct their captive audience in the cartoon’s song and dance. But then you end up having to buy a one or two year old an Anpan Man belt pouch in an airport to make the trip go a tad more smoothly. Crazy. Who made that plastice thing? Can the producers lead a decent life? Does the factory have pollution controls on their effluent pipes? Uh.. well, it’s cute..Here’s more Mutlinational Monitor Interview on regulatory examples.

MM: How does the situation regarding commercialism and kids in the United States compare to the situation in other countries?

Linn: The United States regulates marketing to children less than most industrialized democracies. In the Canadian province of Quebec, marketing to children under 13 is banned on television. And in Norway and Sweden, it’s banned to children under the age of 12. In Greece, you can’t advertise toys until after 10 p.m., and you can’t advertise war toys at all. Britain is regulating junk food marketing on television to children. Many countries have laws around marketing in schools.

Regulations like these are antithetical to the values of our current administration and even to the values of administrations in the recent past. But it is certainly something that’s possible for us to do. But we need to foment to political will to do it.

We need to stop marketing to children. The convergence of ubiquitous, sophisticated, increasingly miniaturized screen technology and unfettered commercialism is just a disaster for their health and well-being.

It’s not just kids. Everyone needs some quiet time to just think, maybe discover your surroundings. Hard to make that time once you have a Zspace blog but still – it probably raises your productivity anyway getting some real world time away from ‘screen time.’

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