Up to date information about children’s entertainment – film, TV, DVD and more…. from founder and president of KIDS FIRST! Ranny Levy

Archive for May, 2008

Undercover Shoppers Find It Increasingly Difficult for Children to Buy M-Rated Games

Friday, May 9th, 2008

The Federal Trade Commission today released the results of its latest nationwide undercover shop of movie theaters and movie, music, and video game retailers. The FTC conducted a survey with 13-to-16-year-old undercover shoppers to collect data about the extent to which retailers prevent unaccompanied children from buying tickets to R-rated movies, R-rated DVDs, Unrated DVDs of movies that were R-rated in theaters, M-rated video games, and music CDs labeled with a Parental Advisory Label – “PAL” – for explicit content.

The survey found that 20% of underage teenage shoppers were able to buy M-rated video games, a major improvement from all prior surveys, and down from 42% in 2006. While CD and DVD retailers demonstrated some improvement since the 2006 survey, roughly half of the undercover shoppers still were able to purchase R-rated and Unrated movie DVDs and PAL music CDs. The fact that so many children were able to purchase Unrated movie DVDs – some of which contain content that, if rated, might result in an NC-17 rating – indicates that retailers need to re-double their efforts in this area. Although movie theaters have improved since the 2000 shop, they still sold R-rated movie tickets to unaccompanied children 35% of the time, demonstrating no statistically significant improvement in ratings enforcement since 2003.

The survey found that results of the undercover shopping varied by retailer and product. Three movie chains – National Entertainment, Regal Entertainment Group, and American Multi-Cinema – turned away 80% or more of the underage teens who tried to buy a ticket to an R-rated movie. Wal-Mart did the best of the major retailers shopped for movie DVDs, denying sales of R-rated and Unrated DVDs to 75% of the child shoppers.

With regard to M-rated video games, Game Stop rejected an impressive 94% of underage shoppers, while Wal-Mart and Best Buy spurned 80% of them. Some stores had very different results for different media. For example, while Best Buy rejected 80% of underage buyers of video games, it turned away underage shoppers for PAL music only 47% of the time, R-rated movie DVDs only 38% of the time, and Unrated movie DVDs only 17% of the time. Similarly, Target refused to sell M-rated games to underage buyers 71% of the time, but refused sales of PAL music only 40% of the time, R-rated movie DVDs only 35% of the time, and Unrated movie DVDs in only 23% of the cases.

For the complete press release go here.

Do Something.

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Staples, Inc., and Do Something.org’s Do Something 101 have partnered with recording artist Jordin Sparks (American Idol) for a teen-targeted public service announcement effort. The PSAs feature Sparks encouraging teens to get involved with their communities this summer by collecting school supplies, and dropping them off at Staples stores, which will then be distributed to kids in need during back to school season.

More than 11 million kids in the US live below the poverty line and don’t have the basic supplies that they need to succeed. So, let’s Do Something about it!
Led by teens nationwide, Do Something 101 is a campaign to collect new school supplies for kids in need. Drop off new supplies at any Staples store during July and August, and Do Something and Staples will make sure that they’re delivered to people who need them. Start thinking about your summer collection drives and be sure to check back for more details!
Watch the PSA
Watch the Outtakes
11 Facts About US Education
How to Run a Supply Drive
11 Most-Needed Supplies

It’s pretty easy to see that poverty is a cycle that’s hard to break. The donations you collect will help kids who want to learn and can’t afford the basic school supplies they need to succeed.
What is the Poverty Line, anyway? According to the U.S. Census Bureau, it’s a family of four (two adults, two children) that earns less than $19,157. Still, $35,000 is basic-needs budget for a U.S. family of four (two adults, two children), as calculated in An Atlas of Poverty in America.
In 2006, nearly 37 million people Americans lived in poverty; 12.8 million were under the age of 18. In the US, poverty is still tied to race: 33% of black children live below the poverty line while 10% of white children do. School budgets are tied to property taxes. This is why schools in poor neighborhoods get about half as much money per student than schools in affluent neighborhoods.
Three-quarters of the nation’s schools (almost 60,000) report needing repairs, renovations or modernization in order to reach good condition. Not surprisingly, most schools in bad condition are in cities where at least 70% of students are below the poverty line. Urban students are less likely to graduate than their suburban counterparts. In 2004, the overall graduation rate for urban districts was 60.4% compared to 74.9% in suburbs. Graduation rates are also lower among certain groups, particularly ethnic minorities and males. In 2004, the graduation rate among African-Americans was 53.4% compared to 76.2% for whites. In 2004, 17 of the nation’s 50 largest cities had high school graduation rates lower than 50%, with the lowest rates reported in Detroit (24.9%), Indianapolis (30.5%) and Cleveland (34.1%). Children of poor families are up to six times more likely to drop out than wealthy children. Are you inspired to make a difference? Check out our tips for your drive!

11 Most Needed Supplies
Some supplies are definitely in higher demand than others. Here is a list of some supplies you should encourage people to bring to your drive. Remember to only accept new donations.

  • Pens & #2 Pencils
  • 3-Ring Binders
  • Box of Colored Pencils
  • Loose-Leaf & Copy Paper
  • Book Covers
  • Spiral Notebooks
  • Planners
  • Highlighters & Markers
  • Index Cards
  • Folders with Pockets
  • Calculators

How to Run a Supply Drive
Get your friends on board You don’t want to do this alone so recruit all your friends to help you out. Make it fun! Spread the word You need to market your drive! Make posters and flyers with all the details and hang them in local stores, at sports fields and around town. Don’t forget Facebook events and Myspace bulletins!

  • Get attention. Be creative and decorate collection boxes. You can even put the Do Something 101 logo on t-shirts, banners, whatever!
  • Make it easy. People are more likely to help if it’s simple, so go where the people are. Baseball games, the pool, summer camps – you know your community best.
  • Make sure they are new – We all know that having “new” supplies for back to school is important to everyone, so make sure not to accept anything used or damaged.
  • Finishing up – Officially end the drive by letting everyone know how many supplies were collected and give a special thanks to everyone who helped.
  • Tell Do Something about it and you could be featured on the homepage!
  • Dropping them off – Donate the supplies you’ve collected to a Staples store in your area in July and August. Drop off bins will be located near the registers.

DOWNLOADS Supply Drive Poster (blank)Supply Drive Poster Do Something 101 logo

Sesame Street Love the Earth DVDs – May 13

Monday, May 5th, 2008

A beautiful sunny day sweeps Elmo, Zoe and Baby Bear away on an eye-opening expedition into Bear National Park in Sesame Street: Love The Earth, arriving on DVD exclusively at Wal-Mart on May 13th from Genius Products and Sesame Workshop. Accompanied by their Bear Scout Leader, Papa Bear, the three scouts search for the magnificent Blue-Feathered Swallowing Swallow so that they can earn their Bird-Watching Badges. The elusive swallow continually evades them, as they learn valuable lessons about littering, recycling, re-using and conserving water during their quest.

Teaching budding conservationists the importance of preserving nature’s wonders and how to truly love the earth, Sesame Street: Love The Earth is one of many green-friendly initiatives from Sesame Workshop. In an effort to teach children to love nature, Sesame Street is increasing its environmental messages and materials for kids. Sesame Street: Love The Earth will be available exclusively at Wal-Mart as part of their Earth Month program which highlights products that make a difference for the Earth and our future.

Fighting Obesity

Saturday, May 3rd, 2008

Since 1980, the number of overweight children has doubled

  • 1/3 of young people in grades 9-12 don’t regularly engage in vigorous physical activity.
  • Out of overweight 5 to 10-year-olds, 61% have one risk factor for heart disease, and 26% have two or more risk factors.
  • Hospital costs related to treating overweight and obese children and adolescents more than tripled from $35 million during 1979-1981 to $127 million during 1997-1999.

KIDS FIRST! sponsor, Qubo and NBC Universal are partnering with the US Department of Health & Human Services, the Ad Council and the US Olympic Committee to introduce a new series of nationwide Public Service Announcements addressing childhood obesity. The PSAs feature young 2008 summer Olympic hopefuls with animated characters from Qubo’s shows, such as Jane and the Dragon and Veggie Tales. Created pro bono by qubo and its programming partners, the PSAs begin airing this week on NBC, ION Television and the Qubo Channel. For more information, visit the Ad Council’s website, Coalition for Healthy Children.

The Coalition for Healthy Children’s goal is to help address the obesity crisis that confronts our nation and its children. Their mission is to provide clear, consistent, research-based messages to children and parents on the importance of practicing a healthier lifestyle and offer them the means to do it.

The Coalition’s members have made a commitment to the promotion of healthy living to our nation’s families and have agreed to incorporate the Coalition’s strategic messages into their marketing materials, which include advertising, packaging, web sites, grassroots programs, in-store promotions and collateral materials. Results of Coalition for Healthy Children consumer research, gathered in partnership with Yankelovich Research, indicates that Americans are confused about what it means to live healthfully and that they don’t know what to do about it. MessagingFighting the childhood obesity epidemic requires communicating directly to children and, just as importantly, to their parents and other adults. The Coalition has crafted messages to these audiences based on five basic communication strategies to promote healthy lifestyles:

  • Physical Activity
  • Food Choices
  • Food Portions
  • Balance between food and activity
  • Role modeling

These specific messages are the results of careful research, made possible by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and are designed to speak to both children and adults in a way that is more likely to resonate and encourage a lifestyle change. Click here to see complete list of messages

Great Debaters Coming to DVD May 13

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

A controversial figure, challenging the social mores of the time, Professor Melvin Tolson (Washington) used unconventional and ferocious teaching methods to shape a debate team at Wiley College, a small African American university in Texas during the 1930s. Fighting against all odds and paving their way to success, the team reaches a pivotal moment when they are faced with one of their greatest challenges yet, going up against Harvard University’s critically acclaimed national championship debate team.

This inspiring film captures a time in history that is difficult to remember where racism was rampant in our country. Denzel proficiently tackles the story in a compelling fashion with high drama that at times makes you cringe, yet brings a smile to your face at the end. There are some graphic depictions of violence but they are paramount to telling the story and historically accurate.

Two-time Academy Award winner Denzel Washington directs and leads an ensemble cast including Oscar winner Forest Whitaker, Kimberly Elise, Jumee Smollett and up-and-coming actors Nate Parker and Denzel Whitaker. Winner of four NAACP Image Awards including Best Motion Picture, THE GREAT DEBATERS chronicles Professor Melvin B. Tolson, a brilliant and steadfast debate team coach who uses the power of words to shape a group of students from a small African American college into a historically renowned debate team.

THE GREAT DEBATERS garnered numerous awards including a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture, the African American Film Critics Award for Best Picture, the Stanley Kramer Award and the Freedom of Expression Award.

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