Research News

From the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood

Over the past few months, a number of excellent books have been published about media, commercialism, and children. Many are written by friends and members of CCFC - people who have been at the forefront of the movement to protect children from commercial exploitation. Below are some of our favorites:

Craig A. Anderson, Douglas A. Gentile, and Katherine E. Buckley, Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research, and Public Policy (Oxford University Press, 2007)

This new book by several of the country's leading media effect researchers is the first book to unite empirical research on and public policy options for violent video games. Anderson, Gentile, and Buckley provide an overview of existing video game research and add to the literature with three important new studies that demonstrate that playing violent games contribute to aggressive behavior. The authors argue that society should begin a more productive debate about whether to reduce children's exposure to media violence and describe the policy options that are likely to be most effective. A must read for anyone concerned about media violence.

Jeff Chester, Digital Destiny: New Media and the Future of Democracy (New Press, 2007)

This powerful new book by the executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy examines how the new digital media system is increasingly used to sell to rather than serve the public. Chester persuasively argues that new technologies have created the potential for a truly democratic media system, but instead they are being harnessed by powerful commercial forces armed with aggressive digital marketing, interactive advertising, and personal data collection strategies. A must-read for anyone interested in media reform, Digital Destiny concludes with a "policy agenda for the broadband era" that allows digital media to benefit all of us, not just the big media conglomerates.

David Ludwig, Ending the Food Fight: Guide Your Child to a Healthy Weight in a Fast Food/Fake Food World (Hougton Mifflin, 2007)

David Ludwig, MD is one the country's premier obesity researchers and the founder of the Optimal Weight for Life (OWL) program at Children's Hospital Boston. In Ending the Food Fight, Dr. Ludwig uses his extensive research and clinical experience to give straightforward advice to parents about improving their children's eating habits and well-being. Dr. Ludwig describes the challenges children and their parents face in today's toxic food world (including junk food marketing) and integrates all three key factors affecting bogy weight - biology, behavior and environment - into a practical and powerful prescription for weight loss. A must read for families of overweight children or anyone concerned about the current epidemic of childhood obesity.

Katheryn C. Montgomery, Generation Digital: Politics and Commerce in the Age of the Internet (MIT Press, 2007)

Katheryn Montgomery, communications professor and director of the Project on Youth Media and Democarcy at Georgetown University, has been at the forefront of media advocacy efforts for children since the 1980s. Generation Digital does a great job of examining how new media are changing what it means to be a child or adolescent today. In that context, Montgomery chronicles the history of the digital media environment, including ongoing struggles over regulation. In addition to taking a hard look at the myriad ways marketers use the digital media environment to target children, she also explores its potential as a vehicle for political and social action. Highly readable and meticulously researched, Generation Digital is an excellent resource for advocates, educators, scholars, and parents.

Susan Gregory Thomas, Buy, Buy, Baby: How Consumer Culture Manipulates Parents and Harms Young Minds (Houghton Mifflin, 2007)

Buy, Buy, Baby is a startling look at how corporate marketers prey on parents' insecurities and target the youngest and most vulnerable children. Using interviews with marketing professionals, product developers, and child development experts, Thomas details disturbing trends, such as the rise of the baby video industry, the false and deceptive marketing of toys and videos as educational, the growth of commercial activities in preschools, and the increased use of licensed characters to sell anything and everything to babies and toddlers. An essential read for anyone concerned about the commercialization of childhood and the perfect eye-opening gift for new and expecting parents.

Lynn Ziegler, SPONGEHEADZ: U & Media (Book Publishers Network, 2007)

SPONGEHEADZ: U & Media is an essential parent handbook for 21st century media. It turns your remote control into a teaching tool, offering a topic about each button. The COLOR button discusses the importance of on-screen diversity to our kids. The SELECT button is about advertising that targets children. And in a satiric nod to a network that rarely seems to offer any, the BALANCE button is about news. And so on.

Author (and CCFC member) Lynn Ziegler is donating a portion of all sales to UNICEF, to the fund to restock children's libraries in the Gulf Coast area, and to media literacy organizations (including CCFC)!

Happy Reading!


Youth Empowerment in Action!
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