2008 Presidential Candidates Respond to Common Sense Media Questionnaire

Candidates Unveil Their Positions on Internet Safety, Ultra-Violent Video Games, Childhood Obesity and More; Several Candidates Take Strong Stand Against Media Consolidation

Common Sense Media
Tuesday, December 4, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – How would the presidential candidates make sure that kids are getting the most out of – and avoiding the worst effects of – today's dizzying 24/7 media environment? A first-time-ever questionnaire from Common Sense Media should shed some light on the subject.

Common Sense Media today released responses to a questionnaire about kids-and-media issues that the organization submitted to the 2008 Republican and Democratic presidential campaigns. Senator Barack Obama, Governor Mitt Romney, Senator John Edwards and Governor Bill Richardson responded to the questionnaire, weighing in on the most critical media-related issues parents face today.(Common Sense will release additional responses to the questionnaire as they come in from the campaigns).

"In today's 24/7 media environment, it is becoming more and more difficult for parents to remain the number one influence in their kids' lives," said James P. Steyer, CEO of Common Sense Media. "American parents want to know that the candidates understand the media challenges they face, and how the candidates propose dealing with these issues."

Some of the highlights of the candidates' responses included:

  • Obama called for an approach that balances the risks and rewards of new technology for kids: "We need to make sure that all of our children have access to these technologies and we must teach our children how to harness the huge potential of this technology. I want to make sure my children are protected from the dangers of the new media world, but I also want to make sure they reap the benefits of it."
  • Edwards, Obama and Richardson took strong positions against consolidation of media ownership, and said they would take proactive steps to increase ownership diversity.
  • Edwards called on the alcohol industry to "quit making millions encouraging teen drinking that destroys thousands of lives each year."
  • Romney said he will propose new, tougher federal penalties for first-time offenders who use the Internet to sexually assault children. "I want to restore values so children are protected from a societal cesspool of filth, pornography, violence, sex and perversion," Romney said.

Common Sense Media submitted the questionnaire to the candidates so that parents would have a trustworthy place to turn to find out where the candidates stand on issues from childhood obesity to how to make the Internet safer for kids.

"Social scientists have built up a virtually irrefutable library of studies demonstrating that the amount of sex, violence and materialism that kids are exposed to in the media impacts their fundamental health and well-being," Steyer said. "As the election approaches, parents are going to want to know where the candidates stand on these important issues."

Common Sense Media is the nation's leading nonpartisan organization dedicated to improving the media lives of children and families. Today, hundreds of thousands of parents, educators, and young people will turn to the Common Sense Media Guide for the trustworthy information, easy-to-use tools, and practical guidance they need to raise a generation of media-savvy kids and families. To become a member, please visit us at www.commonsensemedia.org.

The Common Sense Media Presidential Questionnaire was submitted to the campaigns in September 2007. Each campaign was asked to respond to questions ranging from violent video games to the FCC to what media rules they have for their own kids.