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Child's Play Internet resources

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Here are some of the organizations focused on issues related to children and play:

American Association for the Child's Right To Play

This group, founded in 1973, is the U.S. branch of the International Association for the Child's Right to Play (IPA). Founded in Denmark in 1961, the IPA bases its goals on Article 31 of the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child, which states that the child has a right to leisure, play and participation in cultural and artistic activities. The Web site for the American branch is www.ipausa.org

Alliance for Childhood

The U.S. Alliance for Childhood is a part of an international partnership of individuals and organizations "committed to fostering and respecting each child's inherent right to a healthy, developmentally appropriate childhood." Based in College Park, Md., the U.S. Alliance for Childhood has focused its work on several areas, including questioning the need for computers for young children, stressing the importance of creative play, and spotlighting problems with "high-stakes" standardized testing. The group's Web site is: www.allianceforchildhood.org

Playing For Keeps

Based in Chicago, this non-profit group is dedicated to promoting "healthy, constructive, non-violent play for all children." The group, which sponsors a yearly conference on the importance of play for children, has a Web site offering a look at the research on the benefits of play. The Web site also has ideas on play activities for parents. The Web site can be found at: www.playingforkeeps.org

TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children's Entertainment)

This non-profit organization was founded by early childhood professionals who want to "promote a positive play environment for children (and who) share a concern about how children's entertainment and toys affect behavior and learning." The group produces a "Toy Guide" that advises parents against buying specific toys that are linked to commercial products, promote violent or sexist behavior or make electronic technology the focus of play, among other reasons. This guide, along with other resources, can be found on the group's Web site: www.truceteachers.org

Connect for Kids

This Washington, D.C.-based group describes itself as an "online action and information center for adults who care about kids." There are articles about all kinds of topics affecting children, as well as state-by-state links. Connect For Kids also offers two free e-newsletters on its Web site, www.connectforkids.org

Institute For Play

This California-based group was founded by a medical doctor, Stuart Brown, who believes strongly in the positive impact of play on people of all ages. On the Institute's Web site, www.instituteforplay.org, parents and children can read research on the importance of play, as well as determine their "play personality."

Putting Family First

Putting Family First is a nonprofit group founded two years ago by parents in a Minneapolis suburb who were concerned about their families' over-scheduled lives. The group created its own "Seal of Approval" for sports leagues and other extracurricular activities that allow participants to put their family obligations first. The seal has sparked national interest in the Putting Family First organization, which now has a Web site, www.familylife1st.org, with suggestions for others who want to start such a movement in their communities, as well as recommendations for family activities.

A related Web site can be found at www.hyperparenting.com. This site, connected to the book, "HyperParenting" by Alvin Rosenfeld and Nicole Wise, offers parents a dozen practical tips for countering efforts to overschedule their children. In addition, Rosenfeld is pushing a new effort to create an annual National Family Night - and maybe even monthly Family Nights -- to highlight the importance of families spending time together. The Web site is www.familynightamonth.com

The Lion and Lamb Project

The Bethesda, Md.-baesd project was founded several years ago by a mother, Daphne White, who was horrified by the increasingly violent toys available for her son. The group publishes on its Web site an annual "Dirty Dozen" list of toys that it considers highly objectionable, along with a companion list of more appropriate toys. Parents also can purchase a $12 "Parent Action Kit" on the Web site, www.lionlamb.org

Two groups target the increasingly intense effort to market goods and services to children:

The Center for the New American Dream (www.newdream.org), a Takoma Park, Md. non-profit that publishes two booklets, "Tips For Parenting In a Commercial Culture" and "Good Times: The Lost Art of Fun."

Stop Commercial Exploitation of Children, (www.commercialexploitation.com), is a coalition of 20-plus national and regional organizations dedicated to spotlighting the harmful effects of marketing to children.

Several groups offer resources for limiting family television viewing and teaching family media "literacy" skills:

The Television Project (www.tvp.org) is a Web site devoted to helping parents understand the effect of TV viewing on their families. The site also offers suggested alternative activities to TV viewing.

Families Interested in Responsible Media (FIRM) is a new, national non-profit organization designed to "provide a community where parents can share their lessons and concerns and receive practical tools and information. The group's Web site is: www.firmonline.org

The Center for Media Education (www.cme.org) is a national non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that disseminates research on the effects of various media on children.

The Center for Media Literacy, based in Santa Monica, Calif., is a national non-profit group that develops and sells media literacy materials, most of them aimed at teachers. The center's Web site, www.medialit.org, also offers a "reading room" of articles about children and the media.

The Media Education Foundation, www.mediaed.org, creates and sells educational videos designed to "foster critical thinking about the mass media."

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