February 2014

Why we turned down $290,000; Celebrate Screen-Free Week: May 5th-11th ; Do Not Track Kids; Your Baby Can’t Read (and that’s just fine); Parents of screen-free babies, we need your help; Advocates urge Olympic medalist to reject McDonald’s Sponsorships; Recommended Reading

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Why we turned down $290,000

That’s a ton of money for a small nonprofit like CCFC—more than 90% of our 2013 budget. So we were thrilled when we were selected to receive that amount as part of the settlement of a class action lawsuit against Facebook. Among other issues, the lawsuit addressed Facebook’s use of teenagers’ names and images in advertisements without permission from parents.

However, over time and with new information, we realized that the proposed settlement is actually worse than no settlement. Its purported protections are largely illusory and it will actually undermine future efforts to protect minors on Facebook.

Last week we took an unprecedented stance. We rejected the money and publicly opposed the settlement—a story that made headlines around the world. We hope that our actions will help convince the court to reject the settlement and send the lawyers back to the negotiating table. But regardless of the outcome, the widespread news coverage of our actions has already made a difference. Millions of people around the world now know that Facebook’s deceptive privacy policies harm children.

We could do a lot of good with $290,000. But we will not benefit from a settlement that harms children and impedes effective advocacy. For more about our decision—including links to some of our favorite press coverage, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/blog/why-we-turned-down-money.

Celebrate Screen-Free Week: May 5th-11th

Mark your calendars: Screen-Free Week is May 5th-11th! Turn off screen-based entertainment (and the ads that go with it) and spend 7 days daydreaming, creating, reading, exploring nature, and playing with family and friends. Already more than 30 organizations have endorsed the week and over 600 individual organizers are starting to plan their activities!

Anyone can join in—just stop using screens for entertainment during the week. But experience tells us that it’s more fun—and easier—to go screen-free with others. Visit our new and improved website to take the pledge, download our Organizer’s Kit, find screen-free events near you, explore the many ways you can get involved, and more.

Do Not Track Kids

Children need protection against the increasingly sophisticated surveillance used by online marketers and data miners. That’s why CCFC supports new bi-partisan legislation to protect children online, the Do Not Track Kids Act. The bill would require companies to get parental consent for children under 13 and consent from teens aged 13-15 in order to send targeted advertising to them. It would also require companies to get parental consent for children under 13 and consent from teens aged 13-15 in order to collect their personal and location information.

Please call your legislators and urge them to co-sponsor this important bill. For call-in instructions, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/donttrack.

Your Baby Can’t Read (and that’s just fine)

In 2011, CCFC filed a complaint with the FTC against the makers of Your Baby Can Read for falsely advertising that their infant video series taught reading. That complaint led to a landmark decision by the FTC against Your Baby Can Read. Now, a new study validates our complaint. Researchers found no difference in the reading skills of babies who used Your Baby Can Read and babies who didn't. In fact, babies can't learn to read. We hope these results will be a relief to parents pressured by marketers to push infants toward reading (and screens). They should also be a relief to babies who are now free to play, explore, and have fun with the adults who love them—activities proven promote learning in those important early years! You can read more about the study here http://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2014/02/study-babies-cant-learn-to-read/284067/.

Parents of screen-free babies, we need your help

We're creating educational materials for new parents about screen time. If you’re keeping (or kept) your babies screen-free for the first two years, we need your help. Can you tell us why you made that choice? What considerations went into your decision? What information or resources made a difference? Please reply to this email to let us know.

Advocates urge Olympic medalist to reject McDonald’s Sponsorships

Earlier this month, CCFC joined Corporate Accountability International and other advocates to urge the newest Olympic medalists not to cash in on their success by accepting McDonald’s sponsorships. In a letter, medalists were encourage to follow the example Olympic medalist boxer Amir Khan, who said in 2012 that McDonald’s sponsorships are “clearly sending the wrong signal to kids and young people. If we want them to be healthy and educate them to eat healthily, we need to think about approaching them in a different way, especially around sport.” You can read more about the letter in this article from The Globe and Mail http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/olympic-athletes-urged-to-cut-ties-with-sponsors-like-mcdonalds-and-coke/article17029611/.

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