Dear Pres. – Make the Media Stop Sexualizing Kids

Dear Mr. President:

As the nation celebrates the first Mother’s and Father’s Days since your inauguration, we appeal to you as a fellow parent to help us protect our children from an onslaught of marketing that undermines good parenting and hurts young people.

You have rightly observed that for all the benefits that the media and marketing industries have brought us, they have also contributed to an “overall coarsening of our culture.” They deliver a steady stream of messages that sexualize children, glorify violence, promote unhealthy eating, and encourage materialism. Marketing to children is an intrinsic component of the culture of greed that has given rise to the current economic crisis and against which you have spoken so eloquently. If we are to replace the culture of greed with a more balanced approach to the economy – and, indeed, to life itself – we must rescue our children from the excesses of marketing.

As parents, we are determined to do our part to protect our children. But we cannot do it alone. Since the 1980s, when children’s television programming was deregulated and Congress restricted the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) authority to regulate marketing to children, corporations have waged a campaign of “cradle to grave” marketing to train children to be loyal consumers for life. The limited resources of hard-working mothers and fathers are no match for multi-billion dollar industries using rapidly evolving technologies to bypass parents and target children directly, not just on television, but through the internet, cell phones, mp3 players, video games, and even in schools.

We need your help. We urge your administration to direct the FTC and Federal Communications Commission to evaluate their current policies and regulations to determine whether or not they provide adequate protection for 21st century families. Such a review should include a thorough examination of the depth and breadth of marketing to children and new trends in immersive and interactive advertising. A comprehensive investigation would be in keeping with your administration’s commitment to transparency and to giving parents tools to help them safeguard their children. It would also give policymakers the information necessary to evaluate whether our current system – which relies primarily on marketers to regulate themselves – is working. Thank you.



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