CCFC Blog

Dear Friend, As our latest Annual Report shows, it’s an exciting time for those of us who believe that corporate profits should never come at the expense of children’s wellbeing.  Teachers are pushing back against intrusive educational technologies that profit off student data. Pundits and politicians are finally asking tough questions about Big Tech. Parents are helping one another navigate the challenges of (not) giving smartphones to pre-teens. And Silicon Valley executives are questioning whether the technologies they’ve unleashed are really good for children.  You’ve helped make kids and commercialism a mainstream issue, and in this new climate, we’re more effective than ever. In just the past twelve months, CCFC has: Exposed how one...
On October 10, we joined Defending the Early Years and leading educators and advocates to reject online “preschool” and demand real universal pre-K programs. Will you join us? Decades of research show the benefits of early education, but millions of low-income and rural families still lack access to high-quality preschool. This unequal access harms kids, families, and communities, but some Ed Tech companies see it as a lucrative opportunity to corner a $70 billion “preschool market.” The result is “online preschool”: algorithm-driven software bundled with the lie that kindergarten readiness can be transmitted through a screen. Despite no evidence of positive long-term outcomes, Utah began funding online pre-K in 2015....
Today, CCFC and 17 other public health advocacy groups called on the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) to investigate and take action against Facebook for violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (“COPPA”). We filed a complaint asserting that Messenger Kids, a controversial messaging application for children as young as five, collects kids’ personal information without obtaining verifiable parental consent or providing parents with clear and complete disclosures of Facebook’s data practices.  Messenger Kids is the first major social platform designed specifically for young children. Our FTC complaint says that Facebook’s parental consent mechanism does not meet the requirements of COPPA because it’s not reasonably...
The best films provide us with an escape, and inspiration. I recently fled the blazing hot summer sun for the cool comfort of a theater to see Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the new documentary about children’s TV host Fred Rogers. Away from the vitriol of social media and today’s political discourse, I bathed in filmmaker Morgan Neville’s thoughtful illumination of how Rogers changed the media landscape by speaking slowly, soothingly, and directly to the heart of each of the millions of children who visited his Neighborhood every day. I came away inspired that this kinder, gentler approach might still point the way forward: maybe for our society, and certainly for children’s media.   Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted in...
What a week! From San Diego to Sydney, kids families and communities unplugged for Screen-Free Week 2018. And not only did they survive, they had a blast! Here’s what we’ve heard: Kids were more activeThey scaled rock climbing walls, jumped rope, wiggled on jungle gyms, hiked, danced, and got their feet wet at the beach. Students at the Margaret E. Small Elementary School on Cape Cod saddled up for their first bike rodeo! It’s the second year the school has celebrated big with the school nurse, guidance counselors and teachers working hard to make it a meaningful week....
During Screen-Free Week, children and families are encouraged to unplug from entertainment screens. But what if children unplugged during the school day as well? From February 26-March 2, the students at Nikiski North Star Elementary School in Kenai, Alaska, did just that. The experience was reported in the Peninsula Clarion, and then picked up by newspapers around the country. We couldn’t resist asking the students themselves what they thought of the experience, and here’s what five of them – Belle, Avery, Noah, Kailey, and Telan – had to say. We appreciate their candor and thoughtful assessment of their Screen-Free Week, and applaud Principal Margaret Gilman and all the teachers at Nikiski North Star Elementary School for...
Screen-Free Week is about disconnecting from entertainment screens for an entire week. But what if we were to ask children to disconnect for an entire year? Hadley, Finley, Tilly, and Scotia Crosby lived an extraordinary 11-month screen-free family odyssey on the seas that drew to an end in July 2017. The four sisters and their parents shared amazing adventures and challenges, but did so together, screen-free. Columnist Thomas Farragher reported about their experience in The Boston Globe, and when he asked the sisters about lessons learned at sea, here was the takeaway: “Slow down. Walk, don’t drive. Spend your time wisely. Work at being a family, a family that enjoys being together. Oh yes, and unplug.” We’ve asked...
On April 10, 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testified at a hearing before the Senate Commerce and Judiciary Committees.  Senator Richard Durbin of Illinois asked him a series of questions related to the letter sent to Facebook by CCFC, signed by 117 child development experts and advocates, asking Facebook to scrap the Messenger Kids app for young kids. Here is their exchange: SENATOR DURBIN: You have recently announced something that is called Messenger Kids. Facebook created an app allowing kids between the ages of 6 and 12 to send video and text messages through Facebook as an extension of their parent's account. You have cartoonlike stickers, and other features designed to appeal to little kids — first-graders,...
On April 9, CCFC and the Center for Digital Democracy took a groundbreaking step to protect children’s privacy: We filed a Federal Trade Commission Complaint detailing how Google is breaking the law by collecting personal data from children on YouTube without parental consent. Our landmark complaint is supported by a coalition of 23 consumer and privacy groups.  The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, is the only federal law regulating how to handle kids’ online data, and its demands are relatively straightforward: if you run a site for kids, or if you know kids are using your site, you need to a) tell their parents exactly what kind of personal data you collect, and b) get verifiable parental permission before you gather...
CCFC has joined EPIC Privacy and 14 other privacy and consumer advocacy groups in a letter urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether Facebook violated a 2011 FTC order when it disclosed the personal data of 50 million Americans to data mining firm Cambridge Analytica. The consent order requires Facebook to get consumers’ approval before it changes their privacy preferences or changes the way it will share data. The groups say Facebook violated the order when it shared sensitive information about users with the political consultants without the users’ knowledge or consent: Click here to read the full letter.

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