March 2015

Hello Barbie, Goodbye Privacy; Hello Barbie in the News; We’re Hiring; Screen-Free Week is Just 5 Weeks Away!; Wired Child: Debunking Popular Technology Myths by Richard Freed, PhD; Recommended Reading

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Save the Date!

Save the Date

Hello Barbie, Goodbye Privacy

We’ve never seen anything like the huge positive response to our campaign to convince Mattel to stop production of Hello Barbie, the doll that egregiously violates children’s privacy. More than 30,000 of you have already signed the petitions on our website and at Change.org. The campaign is generating fantastic buzz on social media and has been featured on Good Morning America, The Washington Post, USA Today, CBS News, BuzzFeed, Time, Fox and Friends, Telemundo, The New York Times, The Guardian, Spiegel, and hundreds of other outlets around the world. 

In February at the 2015 Toy Fair, Mattel unveiled "Hello Barbie," a Wi-Fi-connected doll that uses an embedded microphone to record children's voices. Everything a child says will be recorded, sent over Wi-Fi, stored on the cloud, and then analyzed to figure out that child's likes and dislikes. Mattel says it will use this information to "push data" back to children through Barbie's built-in speaker. Such surveillance puts kids and their families at risk in new and disturbing ways, raising concerns about security, targeted advertising, children’s safety, and stifled creativity. 

As CCFC member Bryn Potter said on our petition, “This is a gross violation of privacy, not to mention a deplorable representation of what social and emotional learning should look like for young children.”

Professor Jeremy Hanson, raised other worries, “As a computer scientist and privacy advocate, it's clear to me that there's no level of legal or technological 'protection' that you can apply to the recordings to keep them safe. This dubious idea should have been scrapped by either the legal or ethics team before it got the green light for design and production. I will not purchase a device like this and will actively boycott Mattel and its affiliates should this product be released.”

The good news is the doll isn’t set to hit stores until fall so there’s still time for Mattel to do the right thing. If you haven’t already signed our petition, please go to http://org.salsalabs.com/o/621/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=17347. And keep spreading the word. Click to share on Facebook and Twitter

Hello Barbie in the News

While there’s far too much press coverage to share (try searching for “creepy Barbie” in Google News to get a sense of the volume), here are a few of our favorites: 

We’re Hiring

We're looking for a new Associate Director to work with incoming Executive Director Josh Golin. The Associate Director is responsible for designing and implementing CCFC’s advocacy campaigns and media strategy. It’s a fantastic opportunity for experienced advocates who are passionate about stopping the commercialization of childhood. Application are due this Friday, April 3. For more information, visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/job-openings

Screen-Free Week is Just 5 Weeks Away!

Taking time off from media allows us to experience closer connections with ourselves and with each other. Then we can find ways to prioritize those connections going forward. Screen-Free Week offers a powerful community of support for that process. - Mary Rothschild, Healthy Media Choices

Just 5 weeks until Screen-Free Week 2015! From May 4th to 10th, children, families, schools, libraries, and entire communities will rediscover the joys of life beyond the screen. 

Want to join in the celebration? Unplug from digital entertainment and spend your free time playing, reading, daydreaming, creating, exploring, and connecting with family and friends. Visit screenfree.org to download our free Screen-Free Week Organizer’s Kit, and to access essential SFW handouts, screen-free play ideas, and more. To connect to other Screen-Free Week organizers, “like” our SFW Facebook Page.

More than 30 organizations endorse Screen-Free Week including the American Academy of Pediatrics, Mercy Children’s Hospital, the American Public Health Association, KaBOOM!, and the Center for Child Honouring. If your school or non-profit would like to endorse SFW, email us at ccfc@commercialfreechildhood.org.

Wired Child: Debunking Popular Technology Myths by Richard Freed, PhD

The marketing hype around the benefits of new technologies for children is everywhere. If we believe what marketers tell us, apps and games will make kids smarter, socially adept, independent, employable as adults and more. Really? If you’re skeptical about the touted benefits of tech, and especially if you aren’t, read Wired Child. It’s such an important book for parents and anyone who cares about children.

Written by CCFC’s good friend and Consuming Kids Summit presenter, psychologist Richard Freed, Wired Child is a highly readable, evidence-based look at the voracity of popular claims about the benefits of technology for children. He notes that claims that technology brings families closer together seem out of synch with kids who retreat to their mobile devices for hours at a time. Assurances of amazing technology learning opportunities are contradicted by kids’ obsessive use of entertainment technologies—video games, social networks and texting—that supplant their focus on school and constructive use of technology. Wired Child will help you see through the hype that underlies destructive digital-age myths, strengthening your family and fostering kids’ productive use of technology and their success in school.

Recommended Reading