CCFC Blog

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.
Two nationally-renowned experts on the impacts of school policies on children’s wellbeing—Alex Molnar  and Faith Boninger—urge Maryland lawmakers to endorse HB 1110, the groundbreaking legislation which would protect children from the known health risks of digital devices used in schools: March 7, 2018  Hon. Anne R. Kaiser, Chair, Ways and Means Committee Hon. Eric G. Luedtke, Chair, Education Subcommittee Maryland House of Delegates6 Bladen Street Annapolis, MD  21401  Re: Support for HB 1110 — An Act Concerning Public Schools – Health And Safety Guidelines And Procedures – Digital Devices  Dear Chairwoman Kaiser, Chairman Luedtke, and Distinguished Subcommittee Members,  Thank you for considering Delegate Arentz’s House Bill...
Maryland lawmakers are considering groundbreaking legislation to protect children from the known health risks of digital devices used in schools. If you're a Maryland resident, please sign our petition in support of this bill. House Bill 1110 would require the Maryland Department of Education to develop health and safety guidelines and procedures for the use of digital devices in public school classrooms, in consultation with the Maryland Department of Health and an advisory panel of groups including CCFC, the Maryland Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Maryland State Medical Society, Parents Across America, the Maryland PTA, and other education and health advocacy groups. A growing body of research demonstrates that...
Dear Mark, You seem like a nice enough guy. I mean, if you lived in our cul-de-sac and if the wind had blown our garbage can lid off (as it does during high wind season here in the Pacific Northwest) and you heard it clattering around, I think you would go out and chase it down and put it back on securely. Or if you were too busy to do that, you might text me about it. If I didn’t respond in a few minutes, you would understand, shaking your head knowingly, yet kindly, and understanding that since I am of an older generation than you and I don’t roam around with my cell phone as a bodily extension, texting may not be the best way to communicate with me. Shrugging it off, I bet you would go outside even in the high winds and cold rain, to...
Adding to a growing chorus demanding that tech companies act more responsibly, a coalition of more than 100 public health advocates today called on Facebook to pull the plug on Messenger Kids, the first major social platform designed specifically for young children. In a letter written and organized by the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), the coalition detailed the ways the new app will undermine children’s healthy development. CCFC also launched a petition calling on Facebook to scrap the app. The action comes on the heels of demands from investors that Apple take steps to address the harms smartphone use has on children and adolescents.  Click here to read the full press release. 
I’ve spent the last thirty years studying and writing about the relationship between people and technology. And I’m worried, particularly about kids. When technology plays an outsized role in children’s lives, they’re deprived of the crucial experiences necessary for healthy development and relationships. As I wrote in my book Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age: When children grow up with time alone with their thoughts, they feel a certain ground under their feet. Their imaginations bring them comfort. If children always have something outside of themselves to respond to, they don't build up this resource. So it is not surprising that today young people become anxious if they are alone without a device. They are...
Imagine a baby waking at night and being soothed not by a loving adult, but by a device equipped with a camera, microphone, and speaker. As the baby grows, she begins to form an attachment to her “digital nanny.” For years, she plays with, talks to, and confides in it – all under the watchful eyes of the manufacturer and its retail partners.  This isn’t dystopian fiction. It’s Mattel’s vision of Aristotle, an always-on, artificially intelligent device for kids that the company planned to release in 2018.  But before that could happen, CCFC took action. We organized privacy and child development experts to explain how Aristotle threatened children’s wellbeing. We helped legislators ask Mattel pointed questions about how it would use kids’...
You did it! On October 4, Mattel announced it will not release Aristotle, an AI device for babies and children. Mattel’s announcement came just two days after CCFC and The Story of Stuff Project sent the company more than 20,000 petition signatures urging them to shelve the device. Aristotle was an always-on "smart home" device like Amazon Echo, designed specifically for kids: starting from birth, it would track children's eating, sleeping, and play. It would have given Mattel and its corporate partners around-the-clock access to kids' most private moments. Mattel boasted that Aristotle could soothe a crying baby, and they hoped children would form close emotional ties with the data-gathering robot. We...
We are thrilled to announce the launch of our newest initiative: The Children’s Screen Time Action Network! We know that far too many kids are spending far too much time with digital devices, and that excessive screen time undermines children’s wellbeing and exposes them to harmful marketing. We’ve heard from countless teachers, pediatricians, librarians, psychologists, early childhood professionals, and other practitioners who see every day how screens are interfering with kids’ healthy development. They’re ready to move beyond diagnosing the problem and start working together to create solutions. We built the Children’s Screen Time Action Network with and for these professionals. Guided by an Advisory Board of child...
On October 19, 25 experts and public health organizations called on the producers of Channel One News, a commercial network shown in school classrooms, to update their advertising policies to stop advertising unhealthy food and beverages to children. Channel One’s 10-minute broadcasts include two minutes of ads and are viewed daily by millions of middle and high school students. Signatories to the letter to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which owns Channel One, include the American Heart Association, the UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), and the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), among others. The advocates say Channel One’s “Advertising Policies and Guidelines...

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