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The Newsstand -What's Hot

CQCM Newsletter Summer 1998

CQCM Newsletter Archive:
CQCM Newsletter Winter 1998
CQCM Newsletter Fall 1997
CQCM Newsletter Summer 1997

Mommy, I'm Scared!: How TV and Movies Frighten Children and What We Can Do To Protect Them.
Joanne Cantor, PH.D
Harcourt Brace and Company. 1998
Excellent new book, Cantor thoroughly examines the affects of children's television shows and videos on children of various ages. Of particular interest is her examination of the TV and Movie Rating Systems and her outstanding suggestions for helping parents deal with the fears of all age children.

KIDS FIRST!™ provides monthly reviews of endorsed titles for more than fifty parenting publications nationwide, from New York Family Magazine to Bay Area Parent! These reviews are provided FREE OF CHARGE, serving CQCM's mission to make quality media more visible. Let your local parenting publication know about this service from KIDS FIRST!® And to all the publications we're working with, thank you for helping spread the word.

Hollywood Video, the nation’s second largest video chain, will publish reviews provided by KIDSFIRST!™ in their new in-store publication launching in July. With over 400,000 customers visiting an established Hollywood Video store each year, and with over 1,300 stores across the country, millions of parents and kids visiting any Hollywood Video store can easily find information on KIDS FIRST!® - adult-approved, kid-tested titles. ( We'd like to remind producers to submit their titles 30-60 days before their street date to allow time for evaluations to be completed.)

The National Association of Independent Children’s Video Producers recently released a survey showing 52.2% of parents prefer their children watch children’s videos. Parents also indicated an equally strong preference for video programs with educational content. Marcela Davison Aviles, President of NAICVP and CEO of independent distributor Blackboard Entertainment, says: "Parents are telling us broadcast programming is increasingly less desirable. Moreover, we believe today’s parents are more sophisticated consumers and users of children’s videos. They strongly regulate how their children consume content, and they’ll go out of their way to find quality video programs.”


Twenty five delegates participated in CQCM’s Annual Meeting in Santa Fe, April 16-April 18. The board approved Meg’s Gifts, CQCM's program donating videos and CD-ROMs to children's hospitals and related institutions, as a core program and targeted it for expansion in 1998. The delegates recommended launching an initiative engaging non-entertainment corporations as sponsors of community-based initiatives that would provide KIDSFIRST!™ endorsed videos to public facilities such as hospitals, public libraries and day care centers.

CQCM Honors Dr. Ed Palmer

CQCM Honors Dr. Ed Palmer,
Chair, CQCM’s National Board
and former Director of Research, Children’s Television Workshop,

with the newly established "Palmer-Vision" Award. Named for Dr. Palmer, this award exemplifies his caring, expertise, wisdom and most importantly, his vision for children’s educational programming. Combining education with entertainment; developing program design techniques that actively engage the intellectual and emotional participation of the viewer/learner; and creating educational equity for ethnic minorities and children from low-income circumstances - all are part of Palmer-Vision. We thank Dr. Palmer for his generous words about the Coalition: “[CQCM] stands as an oasis in the wasteland that commercial TV always has been. It is the best system ever designed - by far - for allowing and facilitating an effective screening role for parents. Perhaps it even encourages a generalized habit of parental selectivity. It makes programs available by subject matter categories, and, of course, because it is videotape, these programs are available on demand.”

Dr. Ed Palmer

Now, when you visit our home page you can hear KIDSFIRST!™ Radio online. Conci Althouse, age nine, reviews newly endorsed titles and gives feedback from both our adult and child Jurors. We'd like to thank all the folks who take time to fill out our website feedback form. You help us improve and expand our site by beta testing it on a variety of computers, browsers, etc. CQCM's website clocked over 115,000 hits in the last four weeks - a record! Average User Session Length - 5 min, 55 seconds - up a full minute from last month is another record!

Some excerpts from KIDS FIRST!®web site visitor feedback:

Parents that care about what their children see and hear during a movie MUST visit your site and use your services. I am quite selective and wondered how I could find from such a vast selection (mostly garbage) the most worthwhile movies that are interesting, fun, imaginative, and sensitive to the developmental stage of a toddler. KIDS FIRST is the answer. - S. Engst

My 3 year old son"loves" to work on the computer and my husband & I encourage the use of educational CDs. However, with so many CDs on the market it's difficult at best to determine which ones to purchase. We've made some good selections and some bad selections in the past, but now that I have reviewed your web site, I know what to look for in the future. Thanks so much!! - S. Stough

It's nice to know that the products that you have are ones that a healthy for kids and recommended by them and their parents. I hate purchasing cd's, videos, and music to find out that it wasn't what I wanted for my children. - C. Neff

I am just beginning to homeschool and was interested in finding ways to teach besides textbooks. This site is great!! I haven't looked completely thru it but what I have seen is very helpful. I will be back!!! - J. Metlock

Very informative website. This was my first time visiting... I will come back for sure! - L. Lorentzen

I booked marked this site because I felt it was a good resource to refer back to time and time again. - J Foringer

I have been looking for a recommended video list for children and I was pleased when I stumbled onto your site. I found more information than I needed - all very helpful. - S. Connor

I think it is wonderful that an organization is so concerned about what children view on TV, video and computers. - L. Ragone

WOW!!! I was so glad to find out about this organization. I am an educator of young children and I am constantly watching how my young preschoolers are acting out their favorite tv show, and it of course is violent, shooting guns, fighting, and usually not conveying good messages! I am surprised at what kinds of poor quality programming and software that is available to children. I enjoyed browsing through your web page, and I was pleased with your commitment in your mission statement to, "enhance children's viewing...quality children's media..." Quality media is what we need, and I am glad to learn about your organization so that I can learn how I can become a positive charge for the same beliefs. - D. Coggeshall


I, as a parent and a grandparent am very happy to see not only is there Disney to help our children but a real KIDS FIRST!™ page! Just for the "Wee" Folk! I wish there were even more things for children free; in this wide happening and no-room for children world we live in; we sure need help in every way we can receive it. Our children are our Hearts, and they are Our Leaders of Tomorrow! But; it is so easy for so many to leave them out. I hope that through your help and so many others we can finally have help for our little ones by just clicking on our web page of KIDS FIRST!™ and let the Fun Begin! Thanks again. - N Wimsatt

I was very impressed with the collection and selection of videos and programs included in the list I viewed online. It is a relief to find organizations like yourself taking a stand for the quality of children's programming and keeping parents like myself informed as to the changes in programs available. - P Coffey


A very attractive site that I found through Netscape Center. Thanks for using the Internet medium to help parents and grandparents (like me) to find quality products for our previous ones. - C RAY CARLSON

I have two small chlidren and am trying to make sure they have quality learning/entertainment experiences. - P Noakes

I am pleased to see a web site like this so Grammas like me can see what is good plus entertaining for kids. - R Gamble

Hello at KIDS FIRST, I am a grandmother of 3 children, all toddlers. I have just discovered your site as I am beginning to search for recommended lists of children's videos Have had difficulty finding non-violent, non spastic vidoes that open up the world for these curious children. I look forward to hearing from you. - sigrid rainoff

Beginning August 17, the Fox Family Channel will run the "All New Captain Kangaroo Show" daily, Monday- Friday at 11:00 am as part of two hours of programming called the Treasure House. CQCM has previewed and endorsed all six segments of the "All New Captain Kangaroo" that have been released in home video.

The "All New Captain Kangaroo" has the right blend of new and old. Fox has done a great job recreating some of the wonderful qualities of the original program still near and dear to many of us. The show begins with the old Treasure House theme that many of us grew up with (we were magically transported back to childhood with just those first few notes) and takes a gentle, fun jump to a more rousing, cheery singalong.

The new theme asks “Have you seen the Captain Kangaroo?” And, what a Captain he is! In the words of co-producer, George Taweel, McDonough “successfully embodies the spirit we have all come to know, love, and desire from Captain Kangaroo and has made it his own.” Strong, caring, gentle, soft spoken and funny, he has a kindness that comes through the screen and a strength that keeps all the characters in the Treasure House on an even keel. With his rotund appearance and his wonderful beard, he reminds us of an old sea captain, sailing into a new adventure with every show. A five year old Juror who evaluated one of the new programs told his dad (who wrote us): “Captain Kangaroo is twinkly!” Adult Jurors also approved, and one commented: “The Captain has a good attitude and great way with kids. He laughs a lot instead of getting angry. He provides an excellent role model. So often kids today see angry, smart alecky defensive responses.” The Captain even explained to us why he is called Captain Kangaroo. (Big kangaroo pockets, remember?)

McDonough is just the first of many pluses. The traditional characters we grew up with are still there. Mr. Greenjeans still gardens. Mr. Moose is still headstrong, goofy, and lovable. Bunny Rabbit still wears glasses and loves carrots. Grandfather Clock shares anew his sleepy rhymes and riddles and occasionally speaks French and Spanish! What a treat it is to gently help the Captain wake the old clock just like we did years ago. Added to this familiar group, we now have Joey, a tinkerer who loves to fix things and Copernicus P. Digit, an online cartoon character who connects us to the cyberworld.

In the new Captain Kangaroo, each show centers around a theme such as friendship, cooperation, sharing. Everything in the show compliments the theme of the day including storylines, characters, songs, and readalouds. Story Corner, that lovely time when Captain sits down and reads to us, also highlights the theme. We were pleased with the interesting, and unobtrusive sound effects that accompany Captain’s reading, his slow pace, and his delightful voice. We were equally pleased with the stimulating vocabulary he uses. Words weren’t dumbed down for kids - and when the Captain used a particularly challenging word, he explains to his listeners what that word means. We also sing! In one episode, when Bunny Rabbit sulks, Mr. Moose begins singing “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean” and is soon joined by all in the Treasure House. It was a lovely repetitive song that we are sure children will enjoy hearing again. Captain, let’s see the readaloud title again briefly after the story. Parents may want to purchase or borrow from the library a book you read to the little ones so they can read it again at home.

The original Captain Kangaroo emphasized animals. The new show is linked to Busch Gardens whose expertise is apparent from the gorgeous animal videos to the knowledgeable staff--seen most often in regulars Chuck Cureau and Margo McKnight, animal experts from Busch Gardens Animal Park. Let’s hope this is just the beginning of women and people of color in and about the Treasure House. Not only are the Busch Gardens' segments beautifully done, they are accompanied by soothing music, songs, and great environmental information, including messages of global concern. Like the entire show, they are well paced and create a pleasant atmosphere. All of our child Jurors - ranging in age from 3-8 loved the live animal segments.

We enjoyed the meaningful themes that brought a cohesiveness to the show, but we found some of the moral issues to be beyond the comprehension level of the youngest viewers. (The tapes we previewed were recommended for ages 2-5). In the words of Dr. Ed Palmer, based on his nineteen years as head of research for Children’s Television Workshop: “Children under four may have difficulty conceptualizing complex themes. When you are 2, 3, or 4 years old it’s hard to follow a moral storyline or logic. Very young children don’t understand the moral dilemma.” We agree. The entertainment part of Captain Kangaroo works for young kids. The pace is slow, the music soothing. The substance, however, such as learning to share, be responsible, telling the truth, and following directions is more sophisticated and geared for an older audience (ages 5-8). Co-producer George Taweel responded to Dr. Palmer’s concerns, explaining his opinion that preschool shows often include larger audiences and older siblings. Little kids learn by seeing and doing. Taweel hopes that as children grow up with this show, they will come to understand the lessons offered by the "All New Captain Kangaroo." KIDS FIRST!® recommends an age range of 3 to 8, based on entertainment and educational value.

Our singular complaint about the All New Captain Kangaroo, one that was also echoed in adult Juror comments, is the dropping of ping pong balls on Captain’s head. One adult Juror asked: “What’s with the ping pong balls? That was weird." We agree. On a show targeted for pre-schoolers, it's inappropriate. Interestingly, right after the ball dropping in one episode, the Captain exhorts us, his audience, to “be kind to each other.” Knock knock jokes are fun, but let's bring the "All New Captain Kangaroo" into the compassionate nineties and have something fun happen to all the characters after the joke, not just the Captain. Ping-pong balls aside, Jurors agreed that the show exudes positive social behaviors respectful of children and adults alike.

The FCC has mandated networks to provide at least three hours of educational programming for children on a weekly basis. If this is a sampling of what is to come, parents can breathe a sigh of relief. The "All New Captain Kangaroo" is a great model meeting educational requirements and entertaining kids at the same time.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center released three reports on children’s television at their June conference in Washington, DC. Highlights included an analysis of over 1,000 programs for children on broadcast and cable television indicating program quality has not improved in the past year. According to The 1998 State of Children’s Television Report: “Shows rated as ‘high quality’ by the Annenberg research team accounted for 36.4% of the programs studied, down 3% from 1997.” The report found that on-screen identifiers, whether the ratings or the E/I icon identifying educational programs, are not reliable guides for parents. According to the study, 25% of the shows marked “E/I” (educational and informational) by broadcasters were of minimal educational value. More importantly, understanding of the “E/I” symbol is extremely low among parents, with only 9.1% identifying it as an indicator that a program is educational or informational for children. “If parents are to trust the ratings and educational labels, they must be reliable,” says Kathleen Hall Jamieson, Director of the Annenberg Center.

An Annenberg national survey, "Television in the Home 1998", found that “parents’ opinions about the quality of television available for their children remains low." A third report, Latino American Preschoolers and the Media, examines the uses of media by Latino American preschoolers, based on interviews with mothers in Northern California. The report identifies a lack of Latino positive role models.

The Annenberg Public Policy Center awarded Fred Rogers, host of PBS “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”for over 30 years, its Award for Distinguished Contribution to Children and Television. Mr. Rogers reported his recent encounter with a gorilla who (he was told) grew up watching his show. Upon meeting Mr. Rogers the gorilla was interested in removing the gentleman’s shoes. (Mr. Rogers had not worn his traditional slippers to his meeting with the gorilla.) Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, Washington DC, phone: 202-879-6700;

KIDS FIRST!® Directory
In the past year, over 35,000 copies of the KIDS FIRST!ª Directory have sold and/or disseminated through sponsorship. We wish to thank the Memorial Foundation in Nashville for its support and the Educational Foundation of America. We have fewer than than 10,000 copies left.

CQCM's most recent edition of its

KIDS FIRST!®Directory is now available!

The new 68 page, four-color directory describes over 700 KIDS FIRST!®endorsed videos and CD-ROMs, includingJuror comments and expert guidelines from child development specialists, educators, parents and kids.

To order your copy for $5 (includes shipping and handling).

Call 1-505-989-8076 or order on-line today! or send a check or money order to CQCM at 112 W. San Francisco St., Suite 305A, Santa Fe, NM 87501


Coalition for Quality Children’s Media is not just an organization that evaluates children’s media, it is a resource center, a clearing-house for children’s media; a clearinghouse helping parents and kids find good programming that’s adult approved and kid-tested.


  • Distribution of the Coalition’s pro- active materials on quality media
  • Increased public recognition of quality children’s media
  • Initiatives that serve children and families
  • Special programs for hospitalized children and families at-risk
  • Media advocacy for children and families

MEMBER BENEFITS $25/yr: Individual/Family Membership - Benefits:

  • Free 64 page, color KIDS FIRST!® Directory
  • Subscription to CQCM’s Newsletter
  • Advance updates on new endorsements via email (upon request)
  • Discounts on subscriptions, videotapes, CD-ROMs and other products

Adult-approved and kid-tested!
What does a KIDS FIRST!® endorsement mean?

An endorsed title meets or exceeds the following baseline criteria:

  • NO gratuitous violence or sexual behavior;
  • NO physical or verbal abuse;
  • NO bias in terms of race, gender, culture or religion;
  • NO condescension toward children and
  • NO unsafe behaviors. Each title has been carefully evaluated by our national jury of adults and children.

Where can you get more information about KIDS FIRST!® - endorsed titles?
The most up to date information is available on CQCM’s website. Included: title description, a summary of Juror comments and age recommendation. Educational merits, social benefits and entertainment value are identified.

Where can I find a KIDS FIRST!® Title?
Most are available at your local video retailer or rental store. The Video Learning Library , 1-800-383-8811, ext 425, carries most KIDS FIRST!™ - endorsed titles and is happy to special order programs not in stock.

Dr. Irving LazarBy Dr. Irving Lazar

It was, perhaps, inevitable, that the video industry would turn their attention to infants. Video has become the de facto baby-sitting tool of many providers of child care, and there are, in fact, some educationally worthwhile videos for preschoolers and the elementary school years.

By the age of four, most kids can differentiate between "real" and "make-believe," have a sufficient repertoire of words and experiences to place pictorial stories in contexts, and know how to turn the machine off and walk away from it. The situation with infants is quite different. While the infant's mind is not exactly a blank slate at birth, it is pretty close to being one. Current estimates are that only about fifteen percent of the brain is "hard-wired" at birth. Most of the connections are there to permit simple physical survival. Some learning has taken place before birth. For example, the infant can already recognize mother's voice, though not any other voices. While the brain sorts the visual elements of an experience to one place, and the auditory components somewhere else, the baby receives experience as a whole, and the parts are not disconnected from each other as they are filed away. When an experience is "filed," its elements are connected by a network of nerve cells. If an experience stimulates all of the baby's senses, then a network reaching all of the parts of the brain that interpret sensation is formed. Obviously, the wider the net, the more ways the baby will have to access (remember) that event, and the more likely it is that the event is able to be related to other events. Indeed, a major part of what happens in the first year of life is the construction of the brain's filing system. . . the set of categories that will determine how future experiences are filed, are related to other experiences, and are available for recall. As the neural networks interact with each other, experiences can be related to each other.

The more complex the networks, the more ways there are for such relationships, and the more likely is the child to make those new connections we call "creative." What all this means is that the more multi- sensory an experience, the more widely is it filed and the more readily will it be recalled. So what are these multi-sensory experiences like? Listening to Bach or Mozart or the Beatles from a recording is only stimulating one sense, hearing, and does not promote network complexity.

Watching a video only stimulates sight and sound. Not much of a network structure there. What's a rich experience look like? Well, the perfect one is a mother breast feeding her baby. Touch, taste, smell, motion, hearing, sight, and pressure are all combined into a single pleasurable experience. Indeed, we seem to need to repeat the tragic demonstrations that failure to have sufficient direct physical contact with a consistent set of caregivers results in permanent damage to infants. We closed infant orphanages in the United States half a century ago because research demonstrated the irreversible, terrible effects of the deprivation of continuous human contact on infants. The results of orphanage care for Roumanian infants reaffirmed those earlier findings. Babies need human contact, and they learn from complex human interaction in settings that are rich in stimuli for all the senses. Rich does not mean overwhelming; it means complexity and interrelationship.

Recently we've seen a bunch of videos aimed at babies. Some simply show lots of pictures of other babies, since babies usually pay attention to novelty. Since an infant cannot interact with those pictured babies, they soon become boring and may have, if any effect, that of discouraging social overtures to real babies. Others are inappropriate efforts to teach infants vocabulary suitable for three and four year-olds. While such videos are not educational in any real sense of the term, they may have the negative effect of being used as substitutes for interacting with real people and watching, hearing, and smelling real people doing real things .I have seen two videos aimed at babies and parents that could be useful. One of them (So Smart! - The Baby School Company, Miami, FL) is designed to give a parent or other care-giver some audio-visual tools for playing with baby. It portrays simple moving designs, accompanied by gentle music, and instructs the adult user how to use these
presentations, along with speech, to play with an infant and give them small bits of novel stimuli at a comfortable pace, and to respond to the baby's limited attention span. The other (Exercise With Daddy and Me - My Baby and Me Exercise, Inc., Pembroke Beach, FL) pretends to be an exercise tape for new fathers and their very young infants. It isn't really exercise for either, but provides an excuse and instruction for the father who is uncomfortable about babies to get used to holding and playing with his baby, introduces the father to elements of infant massage, and has a discussion with a group of fathers about the adjustments to family life that a baby brings about. It may, for some men, open up discussions with their wives which would otherwise be too uncomfortable for them. Here again, the tape serves not as a substitute for interaction with a parent, but as instruction for the parenting person. Such tapes, used as instructed, provide a sensible and safe way to use video with infants. Using videos as "stand-alone" entertainment for an infant is usually a bad idea. It doesn't teach in the ways that infants learn, and it can deprive an infant of the human interaction it needs for learning.

Dr. Lazar is professor emeritus at Cornell University, research professor of public policy, senior research associate at Vanderbilt University and is most widely known for his longitudinal study on Head Start. Reprinted courtesy of Children's Video Report.

The recent outset of violence in schools has again raised parents' concerns about the influence of television violence on their children. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry on avoiding TV violence:
  1. Pay attention to the programs your children are watching. Watch some with them.
  2. Point out that although the actor has not actually been hurt or killed, such violence in real life results in pain or death.
  3. Refuse to let the children see shows known to be violent, and change the channel or turn off the TV when something offensive comes on, with an explanation of what is wrong with the program.
  4. Disapprove of the violent episodes in front of the children, stressing the belief that such behavior is not the best way to resolve a problem.
  5. To offset peer pressure among friends and classmates, contact other parents and agree to enforce similar rules.


Plaza Entertainment and the Family Universal Network, F.U.N. - Co., are dedicated to providing top quality family entertainment to the theatrical and home video market. Working together with world-class producers from all around the globe, Plaza offers nothing but the best in "Family safe" movies.

Board of Trustees:
Suzy Pines: M.S.W. UC Berkeley, psychiatric nurse - California, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, director of anti-poverty programs, urban renewal in Illinois, consultant to Head Start in mid-west, developed county wide mental health program.

National Board of Directors:

Bettye Caldwell: Professor of Pediatrics in Child Development and Education, Univ. of Arkansas for Medical Sciences; former director, The Children’s Center, Syracuse Univ. Syracuse, NY; former director, Child Evaluation Clinic, Washington Univ. School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO; past president, National Association for the Education of Young Children.

John C. Herklotz: Chairman, Plaza Entertainment; CEO, Herklotz Enterprises, Inc. a company whose purpose is to develop, produce and promote quality full-length family films; Board Chairman, American Happenings; former CFO of Chicago Tribune/WGN Continental Broadcasting. Active with Children's Miracle Network and Los Angeles Children's Hospital.

Helen K. Liebowitz: National PTA Health & Welfare Commissioner, Project Team Leader for Critical Viewing Skills and Media Literacy; past president of the New York State PTA; past chair of the New York State Coalition for Public Education.

Glenn Ross: President, Family Home Entertainment - one of the top distributors of family and children’s entertainment on video; Executive Vice-President, Live Home Entertainment; past Senior Vice President, Hallmark Home Entertainment.

Doug Zwick: President, Pop Twist Productions; television producer/program director; former Senior Vice President - Original Specials/ Acquired Programming - The Disney Channel, one of the most notable sources of documentary programming for adults as well as children; producer, "Anne Frank Remembered" - winner of the 1996 Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Morton Schindel, founder Weston Woods and Children's Circle has been named an Honorary Board member of the Coalition for Quality Children’s Media. Thanks to Mort for his long term support and for serving on CQCM’s National Board.

We'd like to welcome all our new Jurors and give a special thank you to all Jurors, new and old alike. Annually, our Jurors donate over $500,000 worth of their professional time serving as evaluators for KIDS FIRST!® On our not for profit budget, we could never afford to do what we do without your help. We couldn’t do it without you! NOTE: If you hold a degree in child development, education, library sciences, media or a related field, consider joining over four hundred professional colleagues by becoming an adult Juror for KIDSFIRST!™ - a nationally acclaimed body of children's media evaluators. For details, call 505-989-8076, email: or visit

Young Kids and Computers: a Parent's Survival Guide. Buckleitner, Children's Software Review. Billed as “a Practical Guide for the Parents of Children Aged 2 to 7," provides great information for parents including computer set up, introducing software and going online. 1998.

Remote Control Childhood? Combating the Hazards of Media Culture Diane E. Levin Ph.D. National Association for the Education of Young Children. 1509 16th Street, NW Washington, DC 2003-1426.6. Fine resource for parents and teachers concerned with media violence, includes NAEYC position statement on media violence in children’s lives, suggestions for classroom teachers, extensive resources. 1998. Children and Media Violence. Ulla Carlsson and Cecilia von Feitzen, ed. Yearbook from the UNESCO International Clearinghouse on children and violence on the screen. 1998.

Make Beliefs for Kids of All Ages. Zimmerman, Bloom. Andrews and McMeel, 4520 Main Street, Kansas City, MI 64111. Issues of interest to kids allowing them to participate in the answers by writing, drawing their solutions and ideas. 1996.

National Association of Independent Children's Video Producers Meeting

The debut meeting of the National Association of Independent Children's Video Producers took place in the San Francisco Bay Area earlier this spring.

The NAICVP is a trade organization created by independent producers for independent producers to build awareness and sales for independently produced children's videos.

For more information, contact Marcela Davison Aviles at 415-974-6844.

NAICVP Picture
Ken Urman, Power To Create Productions; Gina Lamb, Bo Peep Productions; Jean Lund, Raindrop Productions; Gary Adams, Gary Adams Productions; Ranny Levy, Coalition for Quality Children's Media; Dennis Fedoruk; Small Fry Productions; Marcela Davison Aviles, Blackboard Entertainment; Shelley Frost, Producer; Marci DeClaris, Carpool Productions.

Kid-Friendly Searching From Lycos, Disney, Ask Jeeves
Reprinted with permission from SearchEngineWatch and MecklerMedia

A few months ago, I got a message from a teacher desperate to find some kid-friendly search services. She had done a search on a seemingly innocent topic in front of her classroom, only to have sites pitching pornography appear in the top results. She was anxious to avoid a repeat performance.

There's good news for her, along with other educators and parents who want search results appropriate for children. Three new services offer children a safer way to search the web.

Two were introduced in June: Lycos SafetyNet and the Disney Internet Guide, or DIG for short. Another new comer is Ask Jeeves For Kids, which launched in March.

Lycos SafetyNet is a system that uses filtering technology to help prevent possibly objectionable web sites from appearing in its results. This is a first among the major crawler-based search engines.

Crawler-based services like Lycos, AltaVista, Excite and Infoseek create their listings by visiting web pages and indexing the text they find on them. The problem with this is that they can be easier to trick than web guides compiled by humans, such as Yahoo and LookSmart.

For example, some porn sites place misleading text on their pages to fool search engine crawlers into thinking they are relevant for popular topics. In other cases, a site may indeed be relevant for a term, but relevant to adults, not children.

To see this in action, perform a search for "toys," "chicks" or "spice girls" on any of the major search engines, and you'll probably see some adult sites among the top results. You may also see some adult-oriented banner ads.

A Cyber Dialogue study conducted for Lycos found 67 percent of those surveyed wanted the ability to block adult sites from search results when their children are using the computer. In response to this and other concerns, Lycos created SafetyNet. It was quietly launched a few weeks ago, but Lycos made a public announcement on June 29.

Activating SafetyNet is easy. You visit the SafetyNet home page and fill out a small form, which includes assigning a password for altering SafetyNet settings.

At its basic setting, SafetyNet will filter objectionable material from the top search results and prevent adult-oriented ads from loading. At a higher level, SafetyNet will also block access to Lycos chat areas, e-mail and message boards.

SafetyNet settings are stored in a cookie on the computer, so that it remembers whether filtering has been switched on. It can be turned off at any time, as long as the proper password is provided. Click on the SafetyNet logo, which appears in the upper-right hand side of the search results screen, to reach the SafetyNet control panel.

The system works by detecting pages that contain words and word syntax common to adult or objectionable material. These pages are then pushed to the end of the results, where they are unlikely to be found.

For example, a Lycos search for "kate winslett" without SafetyNet brings up numerous sites offering nude pictures of the actress in the top results. With SafetyNet on, these nude sites disappear from the top ten.

Lycos readily admits that SafetyNet is not perfect. Some objectionable sites may still slip through, and a smart kid can certainly figure out how to delete the cookie. Also, access to its dynamically created directory remains, where some adult content could be listed.

"Originally, we wanted a foolproof system," said Lycos Product Manager Rajive Mathur. "But on the Internet, there's no way to get that without sending an army of people to scrub each result."

The key is that SafetyNet greatly lessens the odds of an unexpected, and unwanted, surprise. It gives parents and others an easy, first line of defense, which they can further supplement with a software filtering solution, if desired.

Overall, SafetyNet is an excellent enhancement for those parents and educators who use Lycos already, because they consistently like the results it returns. It offers a way to make their favorite service kid-friendly.

SafetyNet is also a good alternative for those who've tried searching at kid-friendly directories such as Yahooligans but failed to find what they wanted. That's because Lycos, being a crawler-based service, may have more comprehensive coverage for particular types of searches.

For best success, it's also important to understand when not to use SafetyNet.

When SafetyNet is on, you can't search for some words at all. Search for "sex," and you'll be told nothing could be found. Look for "sex education," and you're essentially doing a search for "education," as the term "sex" will be ignored. Likewise, birdwatchers looking for information on "blue tits" are really only searching for "blue."

So, when looking for material with possible adult connotations, or when using terms that include sexual or possibly objectionable words, push the kids out of the room and turn SafetyNet off. You'll get much better results. With it on, you'll probably get frustrated.

Likewise, turn SafetyNet off if your searches don't seem to turn up any good matches. You may be using a term that is filtered out because of connotations you don't realize exist.

In contrast to Lycos SafetyNet, Disney has taken a tried-and-tested approach of handpicking sites for inclusion in its new DIG service.

This is filtering by humans, rather than machines. The advantage is that humans usually do a better job in categorizing the web, so you can expect the Disney guide to be a good starting place for kids to explore the web. The same is true for Yahooligans, the long-established children's directory from Yahoo.

Directories are an especially good place to begin searching when your topic is broad, such as "travel" or "sports." This is because you'll find often discover categories that help you narrow your focus.

The Disney guide is produced in partnership with Inktomi, which provides results to HotBot and powers supplemental results to Yahoo and Snap. However, Inktomi is doing something different with Disney. Its technology is being used both to provide matching pages from a select set of web sites and to also help organize those sites into categories, according to Kevin Brown, Inktomi's marketing director.

This categorization is something Inktomi has not previously done with its other partners, but the company can't say more about it at the moment, Brown said.

It's also uncertain what will happen in the wake of Disney's new stake in Infoseek. It seems likely that Inktomi will continue to power DIG, especially in light of the specialty service it is providing.

The third entry is based on Ask Jeeves, a unique search service that lists questions its thinks you want answered in response to a search, then takes you to web pages that answer those questions.

For example, enter "world cup," and it will display results like "Where can I find the latest news about the 1998 World Cup" or "Where can I find a list of the all-time best players in international soccer." Clicking on the Ask Jeeves logo next to each question takes you to a relevant web site with the answers.

Ask Jeeves For Kids follows the same model, but results are oriented for children. My favorite response was when I tested a search for "sex." Ask Jeeves responds with "Where do babies come from?"

The regular Ask Jeeves service also acts as a metacrawler, presenting results from several of the major search services below its own answers. Ask Jeeves For Kids provides the same functionality, but it filters out any objectionable sites that are on SurfWatch's block list.

Lycos SafetyNet

Disney Internet Guide (DIG)

Ask Jeeves For Kids


Children's Search Engines

Still want more? The new Search Engine Watch page lists additional sites of interest to kids, parents and educators.

This article originally appeared in SearchEngineWatch at
Copyright© 1997 Mecklermedia Corporation, 20 Ketchum Street,
Westport, CT 06880; All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

Cleveland Filmmakers Project Director Needed
The Cleveland Film Society is seeking a full-time director of Cleveland Filmmakers, its program of educational, professional and artistic support for independent filmmakers in Northern Ohio. The CF Project Director designs, coordinates and executes all aspects of this growing program, including:
  • Educational Planning
  • Publications
  • Membership
  • Strategic Planning

Candidates should have film production experience, a high level of efficiency and attention to detail, excellent interpersonal skills and word processing and database software proficiency, as well as familiarity with some of the following: non-profit management, film education,event planning, marketing and creating the world in less than 2.3 days.

For full position description, call (216) 623-0400

For consideration, send letter and resume to:

David W. Wittkowsky, Exec. Dir.
Cleveland Film Society
1621 Euclid Ave., #428
Cleveland, OH 44115

Please note, due to budget restraints, we published our '97 fall and winter newsletter online only. Any new member who has joined within the past year will have their membership extended an additional year, as a courtesy of CQCM.


A perk for Jurors is that you may keep any title that you approve. For many teachers and librarians, it is a nifty way to increase your collection.

If you are interested in becoming involved as a KIDS FIRST!®Juror, contact at the Coalition, phone: 505-989-8076.

KIDS FIRST!™ (CQCM) Web Site clocks over 115,000 hits monthly and has received several awards


Information on How to Become a Member

As a benefit to membership, producers can link from our site to theirs - you could sell your title off the net. For more information, contact us.

Other organizations that support the KIDS FIRST!® initiative are offering the Directory to their members and will generate a small profit from doing so. If you know an organization interested in doing this, please have them contact our office.

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