TV on SCHOOL BUSES? Why Not Just Set Up A Deep-Fryer & Throw Kids’ Brains In?

Hi Readers — Here’s a post from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood about School Bus TV. The idea of kids being force-fed even MORE screen time just nauseates me. Fortunately, Josh Golin, associate director of the Campaign, articulates the arguments against bus TV far better than my fake retching sounds. He also references his group’s successful 4-year fight against BusRadio, an equally appalling idea to pipe in radio — and ads —  to moppets riding the bus to school. —  L.


Haven’t we been down this road before? A few years ago, it was BusRadio promising to make school buses safer and calmer with its student-targeted radio broadcasts. Now it’s television that marketers claim will soothe the beast. From theDallas Morning News:

Television can be a ready baby sitter in the living room, but will it work on school buses?

The Garland school district is experimenting with playing educational videos on a school bus to help cut discipline problems.

For $1,500 per bus, Carrollton-based AdComp Systems installs a 26-inch flat screen TV at the front of the bus. The screen plays videos supplied by NASA, the Discovery network, History Channel and others.

The similarities between BusRadio – which closed its doors last September after a four-year campaign by CCFC and Obligation, Inc. – and Bus-Ed-Safe-TV (BEST) are striking. Like BusRadio, BEST is claiming it will improve student behavior and touting its plan to air safety messages and PSAs in its pitch to school districts, while downplaying its commercial content. The Dallas Morning News is even reporting that BEST will have no commercials.

Even if that were true, it’s still a terrible idea. At some point we’re going to need to stand up to the flat-screen invasion and the ubiquitous blaring TVs that compete for our attention and with our conversations at seemingly every turn. Since children 8-18 already spend 7.5 hours a day with media and excessive screen time is linked to poor school performance, keeping televisions off of school buses might be a good place to start.

And just as with BusRadio – which once boasted on its website for advertisers that it would “take targeted student marketing to the next level” – it’s clear the underlying purpose of BEST is to deliver a captive audience of students to advertisers. The BEST website includes a section of “ideal partnerships” which include “targeted content partners” and “commercial sponsorships.”

As for the claim there will be no commercials, the website says only that BEST won’t run “Direct commercial ads that parents can object to and are not good for kids” or air violence or sexually explicit material. That’s not setting the bar very high.

As we learned with BusRadio, it’s not just the content that parents object to – it’s the very business model of forcing children to consume media and marketing on a school bus. Before the BEST team proceeds any further, they should do their homework. They could start with the more than 1,000 comments that parents submitted to the FCC in opposition to BusRadio, or by reading how parents in Louisville, Montgomery County, and cities and towns around the country organized to keep the company out of their school districts. Because if BEST, like its failed predecessor, underestimates parents’ determination to keep their school buses commercial-free, it’s sure to be the next BusRadio. — J.G.

Gotta Vent

Sorry Readers — Vent I must. Just got off a long radio interview with Detroit’s “Mojo in the Morning” show, where, after being called a crazy, terrible mom who obviously doesn’t care about her kids, the final comment to me and the listeners was, “Watch ‘Law & Order,’ and you’ll know what New York is all about.”

No. Watch “Law & Order” and you will know what TV is all about. One man once wrote to this site a while back — I wish I could find his note — and said that he lives in a quiet, safe Brooklyn neighborhood where “Law & Order” often films. Of course it’s not a quiet, safe neighborhood when it’s the backdrop for that show. It’s a crime scene! And THAT is the difference between real life and TV: Life is, thank goodness, usually pretty dull. TV is filled with the stuff that keeps us glued to the screen: Murder! Rape! Innocents in peril!

It is really easy to scorn a mom would would put her child into that kind of mayhem and casually walk away.

That’s not what I did. That’s not what I advocate. I advocate preparing our children with skills like, “How to cross the street,” “How to ask for help,”  and then letting them out into the real world. The boring one you don’t see on TV.

And I won’t even get into the whole radio discussion about, “What if something terrible happens?!” which is a question meant to trump anyone who trusts their kid to do ANYTHING. Ever.

I’m glad I stir up controversy because that gets the issue — and me — out there. A lot. But sometimes, the tsunami of scorn, self-righteousness and media-generated terror gets me down.  Off to eat a cookie.  — Lenore

Introducing Meteor Safe, For Parents Who CARE

Hi Readers! Here’s a helpful new product, brought to us by Andrew Tallman, a talk show host on KPXQ in Phoenix!

Meteor Safe!

Hello, this is Derek Baskerville, the president of Meteor Safe, a company I founded thirteen years ago when I discovered just how real the threat of being struck by space debris is to our children.  Now, as most of you probably know, the majority of small asteroids and meteors which enter our atmosphere burn up long before they come to earth, but not all of them do.  In fact, more than once each year, a rock the size of a quarter actually impacts the Earth somewhere.  Well, obviously, a ping-pong ball sized piece of rock hurtling through the air at thousands of miles an hour will do horrible things to your children. 

That’s why I started Meteor-Safe with our patented Safe-Head® technology.  Here’s how it works. The radar array mounted on the fashionable headpiece will continuously monitor for the approach of space rocks.  And if it detects one, it will immediately issue a small electric shock to your child’s ear on the side nearest the danger, forcing him to move suddenly the other direction and keeping him safe from even a softball-sized piece of space debris.  In over 42 clinical trials, no one yet has been hit by such rocks when they were wearing our Meteor-Minder® technology. 

But wait there’s more…. 

If you order now, I’ll even throw in a full box of our patented Piranha detector strips at no extra charge.  Never again will you have to worry about the neighborhood pool or the creek in the woods.  You can rest assured that your children will not come home missing a leg because of a sudden freshwater Piranha attack.  The price is a mere $1,499 for both the Meteor-Safe headgear and the Piranha detector strips.  We know that might seem like a lot, but you have to ask yourself, what price tag can you put on your children?  And how much is it worth to have the peace of mind knowing that you won’t be one of those callous parents who has to explain to the other moms at PTA how your child was killed by a meteor because you wouldn’t spend the money to protect her? 

Operators are standing by for loving parents only.