Thursday, March 12, 2009

CCFC Takes On The Good Night Show

The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is in the midst of a new initiative, calling attention to PBS Kids Sprout's The Good Night Show, a television show that (despite massive evidence to the contrary) promotes itself as a sleeping aid for toddlers. I posted about this same show last December when they held their Christmas Eve "Snooze-a-thon", and many of the same arguments I outlined then can be directly applied to the regular nightly program as well. Anyway, here's an excerpt from the CCFC press release
The Good Night Show which airs every evening from six to nine on Sprout, consists of popular cartoons like Thomas the Tank Engine and The Berenstain Bears, interspersed with original sleep-themed content. The original segments feature Nina, the host, and a puppet named Star, who take on the role of parent and child respectively. Sprout claims The Good Night Show "helps preschoolers wind down after a busy day."

"Parents trust that programming on PBS and its affiliated networks will be beneficial to children," said CCFC's Director Dr. Susan Linn. "Sprout is exploiting that trust by implying that its programming will ease children into sleep when research suggests that screen time before bed undermines healthy sleep habits."

For children three years and younger, television viewing is associated with irregular sleep patterns. Studies have also found that older children who watched TV at bedtime were more likely to have difficulty sleeping. The Good Night Show may also have the unfortunate consequence of encouraging parents to put televisions in children's bedrooms, a practice which has been linked childhood obesity and poor academic performance. The National Sleep Foundation calls television a "sleep stealer"and urges parents to avoid making television a part of their bedtime routine.

The CCFC also highlights the importance of "bedtime" as a nightly bonding ritual between parents and children, and that television is a poor substitute for the interpersonal contact, storytelling, songs and conversations that would/could otherwise take place while putting children to bed. I especially like the quote they include by Robert Kesten, Executive Director for the Center for SCREEN-TIME Awareness, who aptly states: "When television programmers and marketers assume that they know more than doctors and educators about what is best for our nation's children, we all lose." The initiative is just now gaining momentum, but has already received a bit of backlash press coverage (for example, Friedman's MediaPost article uses a sarcastic tone and claims the CCFC is criticizing the show because it "lulls kids to sleep"...talk about missing the point completely, yikes!).

You can get more info about this initiative and other projects over at the CCFC website.

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