November 2015

CCFC to FTC: Stop the Junk Food and Other Unfair Ads on YouTube Kids; 8 Reasons to Leave Hello Barbie on the Shelf; It’s TOADY Time: Vote for the Worst Toy of 2015; CCFC Welcomes Ana Lucia Villela to the Board of Directors; Our Guide to Commercial-Free Holidays; TRUCE 2015-2016 Toy Guide; Ontario School District says “No thanks, TD Bank!”; Recommended Reading & Listening

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In this issue:

CCFC to FTC: Stop the Junk Food and Other Unfair Ads on YouTube Kids
Last week, CCFC and Center for Digital Democracy filed two new complaints with the Federal Trade Commission urging an investigation of Google for unfair and deceptive marketing practices on its YouTube Kids app for preschoolers. These complaints are important additions to ones we filed with the Commission in April, where we detailed the ways in which Google fails to adequately separate advertising from content on the app, thereby exploiting children’s developmental vulnerabilities and violating long-standing safeguards to protect kids.

In the new complaints, we asked the FTC to hold 17 food and beverage manufacturers accountable for violating the pledges they made not to market to young children. (For example, even though the Coca-Cola Company has pledged to not market anybeverages to children under 12, we found 47 television commercials and 11 longer promotional videos for Coke and Coke Zero on YouTube Kids.) We also asked the FTC to investigate and put an end to the barrage of commercial content on the YouTube Kids app, which appears to result from undisclosed relationships and payments between advertisers, YouTube creators, and various intermediaries. Our complaints have generated a slew of media coverage around the world, including a piece in The New York Times and this great article in Tech Crunch.

8 Reasons to Leave Hello Barbie on the Shelf
This month Mattel released Hello Barbie, its disturbing new doll that records and analyzes children’s private conversations, and we were ready to welcome her—with a public education campaign we’re calling “Hell No Barbie.” We consulted with experts in child development, psychology, information technology, and privacy, and developed Eight Reasons to Leave Hello Barbie on the Shelf

A follow-up to our campaign last spring, when nearly 45,000 people asked Mattel to stop the production and promotion of the doll, #HellNoBarbie uses social media to raise awareness of the harms the product poses to children. The response has been fantastic, with thousands posting our shareable images on social media, discouraging those in their circles from buying the creepy doll. And coverage of our campaign, from outlets as diverse as NBC News and Treehugger, is getting the word out, too. You can join the campaign by selecting your favorite reason not to buy Hello Barbie and sharing it with your friends and followers on Facebook and Twitter. 

It’s TOADY Time: Vote for the Worst Toy of 2015
Speaking of Hello Barbie, she’s one of six “exceptional” finalists for CCFC’s TOADY (Toys Oppressive And Destructive to Young children) Award for Worst Toy of the Year. From the multitude of toys this year promoting precocious sexuality, gender stereotypes, violence, and branded entertainment at the expense of children’s privacy and creativity, CCFC has selected six nominees—but which one is awarded the dreaded TOADY is up to you! Vote now, and be sure to campaign for your candidate on social media. We’ll announce the winner on December 7, so stay tuned.

CCFC Welcomes Ana Lucia Villela to the Board of Directors
We couldn’t be happier to announce that Ana Lucia Villela, long-time friend, supporter, and advocate for children, has joined CCFC’s Board of Directors. Ana Lucia is the founder and chair of the Alana Institute, a non-profit organization in Brazil whose mission is to honor the child. Ana Lucia was inspired to combat marketing to children in her home country after attending one of CCFC’s Consuming Kids Summits years ago. Since then, the Alana Institute’s Children and Consumerism program has notched one impressive victory after another. We are so excited to have Ana Lucia’s passion, leadership and expertise on our Board.

Our Guide to Commercial-Free Holidays
If you’re dreading these weeks of advertising and shopping madness leading up to the holidays, don’t worry—we’ve got you covered! The CCFC Guide to Commercial-Free Holidays is full of tips for managing the over-the-top commercialism that’s become the hallmark of the season. CCFC friends and Board Members, including Tim Kasser, Nathan Dungan, Diane Levin, Nancy Carlsson-Paige, Joe Kelly, and others, share their ideas for great and simple ways families can make the holidays more meaningful. Download your copy of the guide today, and breathe easier this December.

TRUCE 2015-2016 Toy Guide
Gift-giving is a holiday tradition for many families, but it can be a huge challenge to find developmentally appropriate toys for children that encourage healthy, creative play (see this year’s TOADY Award nominees as proof!). To help, our friends at TRUCE have released their 2015-2016 Toy Selection Guide. It’s full of great ideas, from specific product suggestions, to more general guidelines about what makes a good toy, to products and brands to avoid. (Hint: good toys can be used in multiple ways and let kids use their imaginations!) Click here to get the full guide. 

Ontario School District says “No thanks, TD Bank!”
When a batch of free books intended for students in Ontario, Canada’s York Region School District arrived with the TD Bank logo printed on them, the school board turned them down. While some criticized the board’s decision, CCFC's David Monahan explains on the CCFC blog why setting a policy to protect schoolchildren from marketing—and sticking to it—is an important and commendable action for a school board to take. Said a manager for the York Region District School Board, "Our schools are not advertising mediums for corporations.” We couldn’t agree more! 

Recommended Reading & Listening

  • CCFC’s Josh Golin and MIT’s Sherry Turkle discuss Hello Barbie and what happens when kids are socialized by robots on KALW Public Radio's Your Call.
  • Nancy Carlsson-Paige receives FairTest’s Deborah W. Meier Hero in Education Award and says in her acceptance speech, “never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that we would have to defend children’s right to play.”
  • The Center for a New American Dream provides more excellent resources to help you Simplify the Holidays.
  • Nancy Huehnergarth says of McDonald’s McTeacher’s Nights and its in-school “nutrition” infomercial 540 MealsNot Lovin’ It.
  • Paula Poundstone explains why electronics and kids’ brains don’t mix.
  • new report shows that a large percentage of children and teens can’t tell which Google search results are paid advertisements.
  • The Associated Press uncovers the disturbing role Coke plays in an obesity-prevention nonprofit it bankrolls, including that Coke helped pick the group’s leaders, edited its mission statement, and more.