December 2011

Protecting Children Online; CCFC Files FTC Complaint Against Webkinz.com; Support CCFC's Year-End Campaign; Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet Takes Home the TOADY; Recommended Viewing: The High Price of Materialism; CCFC's Nagging Nine and Tips for Surviving the Holidays; Instituto Alana Takes on McDonald's, Mattel; Recommended Reading (and Listening)

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In this issue:

  • Protecting Children Online
  • CCFC Files FTC Complaint Against Webkinz.com
  • Support CCFC's Year-End Campaign
  • Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet Takes Home the TOADY
  • Recommended Viewing: The High Price of Materialism
  • CCFC's Nagging Nine and Tips for Surviving the Holidays
  • Instituto Alana Takes on McDonald's, Mattel
  • Recommended Reading (and Listening)

Protecting Children Online

The FTC has proposed important changes to the implementation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule.  The COPPA Rule was adopted in 2000 to create a safer Internet experience for children, but the online environment has changed dramatically over the past ten years, while the COPPA Rule has never been updated. The FTC’s proposed changes would provide important safeguards protecting children from the technologies and techniques that advertisers use to identify, track, and target kids online and on mobile devices. If you support efforts to empower parents to keep their children safe, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/ftccoppa.html to submit a comment to the FTC.


CCFC Files FTC Complaint Against Webkinz.com

On December 13, CCFC filed a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Ganz, the operator of the popular children’s website Webkinz World.  Ganz’s Ad Policy claims parents can opt children out of seeing third-party ads on Webkinz.  But, as CCFC members informed us, Ganz continues to expose children to third-party advertising even after parents opt out.  And regardless of whether or not kids are opted out of third-party ads, Ganz violates its young users’ privacy by installing cookies on their computers to serve them targeted ads.

“As the time children spend online increases, so does their vulnerability to privacy violations and to advertising,” said CCFC’s director Dr. Susan Linn.  “It’s clear Ganz’s Ad and Privacy Policies are designed merely to assuage parents’ concerns, not actually to protect children.  That’s why it’s essential that the FTC hold Ganz accountable for the company’s deceptive practices.”  Learn more.


Support CCFC’s Year-End Campaign  
    
Remember, CCFC is the only national organization devoted solely to reclaiming childhood from corporate marketers.  We rely on you because we will not compromise our commitment to children by accepting corporate funding.  Between now and December 31, 2011 all donations of $150 will be matched!  But any amount is appreciated.  To make your tax-deductible donation please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donate.  To learn more about CCFC's accomplishments and why your support matters, please click here to read our Annual Report.


Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet Takes Home the TOADY

Capturing 43% of the vote, the Vinci Touchscreen Mobile Learning Tablet has won the 2011 TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young Children) Award for Worst Toy of the Year.  The first “iPad” for babies beat out rivals the I Am T-Pain Mic (32%), Monster High Ghoul Spirit Fearleading Doll 3-Pack (16%), WWE Colossal Crashdown Arena (5%), and Monopoly - Coca Cola 125th Anniversary Collector's Edition (4%).

The push to convince parents that screen time is educational for babies is what propelled Vinci to outpace its formidable competition.  “While all the choices were horrifying, the Vinci seems the most insidious to me,” said CCFC member Anne M. Deyser of Westborough, Massachusetts.  “It’s likely to convince parents that they are doing something positive for their babies when that couldn't be farther from the truth.”  Added Peggy Sissel-Phelan, EdD, of Little Rock, “People don’t know that without human attention, babies won't develop normally, much less optimally.  They will, however, learn how to push the buttons to make the screen react.  Rats can do that!”  

To learn more about this year’s TOADY Award, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/toady2011winner.html.

And for tips for choosing toys that promote healthy play and avoiding toys that undermine it, check out the 2011-12 Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment Toy Buying Guide.


Recommended Viewing: The High Price of Materialism

CCFC Steering Committee Member Tim Kasser, with our friends at the Center for a New American Dream, created a great animated film based on Tim’s book, The High Price of Materialism.  The film explains how when people buy into the ever-present marketing messages that "the good life" is "the goods life," they not only use up Earth's limited resources, but they are less happy and less inclined to help others.  Click here to watch the short film, and please share with family and friends.


CCFC’s Nagging Nine and Tips for Surviving the Holidays

We all know that commercialism is toxic for children.  So why not make that a factor when you choose toys for kids?  Thoughtful consumers already include concerns about environmental impact, labor practices and where a product is made in their buying decisions.  But most of us don’t think about how, and to whom, the toys are marketed.
 
That’s why, during the week of “Black Friday,” we reviewed every toy commercial—more than 9,000 of them—on the five major children’s cable networks.  Then we compiled a list of the Nagging Nine, the toys most heavily advertised to children.  Because if we want companies to stop advertising to kids, we have to stop rewarding the ones that do.  To find out which toys made the list, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/actions/holidayads2011.html.

And for tips from CCFC’s staff, Steering Committee members, and friends on making the holidays more meaningful and less materialistic, get your free copy of CCFC’s Guide to Commercial-Free Holidays.


Instituto Alana Takes on McDonald’s, Mattel

We’re so proud of our sister organization Instituto Alana, which does amazing work protecting children in Brazil from commercial exploitation. The organization filed a claim with government regulators against McDonald’s for using toys to market Happy Meals.  The result?  McDonald’s was fined the equivalent of more than $1.7 million.  And on November 30th, in a red carpet ceremony, Alana presented its first Corporate Manipulator Award to Mattel for targeting children with the most commercials.  You can watch the presentation of the “Award Ceremony” here.  You can read more about the McDonald’s victory here.


Recommended Reading (and Listening)

And CCFC’s advocacy has been featured in more than a dozen articles already this month.  You can always find links to media coverage of our work on our website at CCFC in the News.