When I was a high school senior I remember our school participated in a program to bring video equipement into our classrooms. It was called Channel One. The program was explained to us as away for our school to receive free TV’s and VCR’s to be used in the classroom. In return for this free equipement all the school had to do was show 12 minutes of “news” programing during our homeroom block. We as students thought “How cool, TV’s in the classroom!”. We all sat in anticipation on the first day we got to watch “TV” in homeroom. On the first day the teacher gave their obligatory remarks and turned on the TV for our segment. When it was all over I felt pretty ripped off. I don’t remember exactly what ads we watched but I just remember thinking the whole point of the program was to sell products to a captive audience. When you think about the concept it’s a marketers dream come true. You know exactly who your audience is. Here’s a bit on it from the “Controversy” section of a “Channel One” Wikipedia page.
Channel One has been controversial largely due to the commercial content of the show. Critics claim that it is a problem in classrooms because it forces children to watch ads, wastes class time, and wastes tax dollars. Supporters argue that the ads are necessary to help keep the program running and lease TVs, DVRs (Head-End Units) and satellite dishes to schools, as well as commercial-free educational video through Channel One Connection. In 2006, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported that research indicated that children who watched Channel One remembered the commercials more than they remembered the news.
Another criticism, noted by Media Education Foundation’s documentary Captive Audience, is that very little time is dedicated to actual news and the majority of the programming is soft, sensationalistic “fluff” with corporate marketing and PR tie-ins to promote products and services, arguing that it further corrupts the school setting with consumerism.
Fast forward the a couple days ago… I was reading this article, Study: Educational apps for young children growing rapidly and it said this, “the study also found that toddlers and preschoolers are the most popular age-category for children’s apps, representing nearly 60 percent of the total”. Wow, so 60% of app makers are “targeting” the 3 & 4 year old market segment. For some reason that just rubbs me the wrong way.
After reflecting on the above mentioned article in this light, I got this creepy feeling I was somehow participating in the marketization of my students and in a sense my classroom as a whole.
When I read things like this:
Industry spending on advertising to children has exploded in the past decade, increasing from a mere $100 million in 1990 to more than $2 billion in 2000
This was taken from the Media Awareness Network website. The scariest thing about that last quote is that those number’s are over 10 years old! Just do a quick Google search for: “advertising – children – spending” and you’ll get a tsunami of disturbing information. While most of the time the technology us in my classroom is not directly exposing my students to overt advertising I just wonder in which direction this will go. The media landscape is changing rapidly and advertisers are feverishly finding new ways to leverage these changes.By no stretch do I feel that we shouldn’t be using technologies such as the iPad in our classroom. I just think we need to be aware of the full ramifications of such use. In essence I feel like tablets devices such as the iPad are in a way a window for companies to look into our classrooms. When companies (whose job it is to make money) look in your classroom they don’t see children, they see dollar signs.
I know this has been a bit of meandering post but I was just wondering if anyone else has any thoughts on this?