Ruff Goes to Hartford

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Ruff’s new Distracted Driving program got its official launch in Hartford with a museum event that included kids, federal and state safety officials, WGBHers, and kids playing games and taking a safe driving pledge. And Ruff was there too.

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“We understand that the proliferation of mobile devices means that this will be a difficult habit for people to break, which is why we are advocating for our best, and most vocal allies — our children — to speak up,” says Connecticut DOT Commissioner James P. Redeker.

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“Connecticut has been a national leader in the field of distracted driving prevention. This partnership with WGBH represents our state’s continued commitment to finding innovative ways to connect with the public and educate them that this behavior presents a real danger to them and their families. The integration of the popular character Ruff Ruffman represents another way to change behavior by encouraging non-driving age children to tell their parents not to text and drive. This is a terrific complement to our existing distracted driving programming.”

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Quick Survey!


Ruff Ruffman is hoping to take his messages about technology use on the road. If you are a parent of kids in elementary or middle school, please consider taking this 10-minute online survey about the effectiveness of media campaigns: you will be sharing your opinions with a small team of students at the HarvardGraduate School of Education who are helping us with some preparatory work. The survey is completely anonymous and no identifying information is collected.

Parent’s Choice Gold in TV Category for Ruff

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The review says:

PBS Kids has launched Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius, a digital literacy project aimed at kids ages 6 – 11. According to the PBS website, these video shorts explore “the constantly changing world of media, and how kids use technology, to help families become more media literate.”

Ruff Ruffman is the top-dog in this series, providing tips accompanied by spare (and delightfully quirky) animation. Also according to the website, the series developers surveyed more than 4,000 children and 250 parents to come up with the questions that are the basis of Ruff Ruffman’s Q&A show format.

How much time should I spend on the computer? How do you know if a web site is safe? Can hackers get on your texting conversations? Is searching for web sites bad for kids? Ruff, do you have a girlfriend?

Okay, some of those questions are played for comic relief but they’re handled quickly and don’t overshadow the real point of the program-which is to help kids navigate potholes and even outright dangers when using new communications technology.

Even very young kids these days are likely to consume some sort of new media and use digital and mobile technologies for school and personal purposes – and corny, wacky Ruff Ruffman delivers clear and age-appropriate technology tips, often reminding kids to ask grown-ups for help on more complex tasks, such as setting up search engines with kid-friendly filters.

These video tips are just the right length, and pear-shaped Ruff is just the right messenger, to deliver the invaluable information. Parents hoping to teach kids about media literacy and set safe and acceptable limits on media consumption would do well to let Ruff Ruffman launch the conversation. His “humility” is questionable but his advice is top-notch.


Can you spare five seconds for a quick vote?

publicvotingWe’re finalists in the MacArthur Foundation‘s prestigious Trust Challenge. If funded we will win a grant to add an innovative, crowdsourced parent’s guide to media and technology to our Ruff Ruffman project.

A strong People’s Vote will help us. Just go to this page and click on the heart.

That’s it: no login, no fuss, no muss. It will look like this:

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For more about what we hope to make:

In today’s media-saturated world, parents of young children often struggle to navigate an overwhelming torrent of media consumption and new technologies. To cut through the noise, WGBH will create a dynamic, online resource addressing parents’ biggest questions. We will convene a community of media experts at WGBH, peer networks of tech-savvy parents via and, and academic expertise from the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. This unusual alliance will provide crowdsourced, curated responses to parents’ most pressing media-and-technology questions. 

Thank you!