Peggy Charren, the architect behind the federal Children’s Television Act, which curtailed excessive commercialization of children’s TV on the public airwaves, believed that communities should take action to demand the kind of media they want (“Peggy Charren dies; helped make fertile a wasteland of children’s TV,” Metro, Jan. 23). Her work positioned Massachusetts as a leader of media education and action in the nation.
The act passed before the explosive growth of the Internet, when there were fewer means for marketers to access children. But Charren, a forward thinker, also called for media literacy education, which builds skills necessary both to navigate and participate responsibly in today’s media environment and to hold media producers accountable.
Increasingly, marketers are concocting ways to circumvent the principles set forth by the 1990 law. Media literacy education provides young media consumers with the means to resist manipulative messages and challenge the consumerism, as well as the gratuitous violence, sexualization, and stereotypes, perpetuated in the media today.
A media literacy education bill has been introduced on Beacon Hill by Representative Dave Rogers of Cambridge and Senator Dan Wolf of Harwich. State lawmakers should honor Charren’s memory by cosponsoring this bill by Friday’s deadline.