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Marketplace Morning Report

How to parent in the digital age

Marketplace Weekend Staff Dec 19, 2014
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Lizzie O’Leary spoke with famed voice over actor Bill Ratner about his new book “Parenting for the Digital Age.”

If you grew up watching “GI Joe” cartoons, Ratner voiced Flint. For years, his voice on television helped market and sell toys to kids. He then created a program called TV Cartoon Scandals – Media Awareness for Children, which tried to make children in the Los Angeles Unified School District aware of the purpose of TV programming: To sell things to young consumers.

In “Parenting for the Digital Age” Ratner shares his own story of controlling media in his house. When his young daughter was glued to the television, he decided to take action. He rewired his entertainment system and created a kill switch. This allowed him to turn off the television when he saw fit. Ratner also bans cellphones in his home at certain hours of the day.

When interviewing parents for the book, Ratner came across two major concerns. The first issue was time  do kids have enough time to veg out and do other things? The second issue was: Who are these people creating the programming for children? Answer: They are strangers and you have no idea what their values are.

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