September 2013

Advocates Urge FTC to Protect Teen Facebook Users; Colorado Parents Win Right to Opt-Out of inBloom Database; CCFC in the News; New Film Highlights How Junk Food Marketers Target Children; The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age; Beyond Winning: Smart Parenting in a Toxic Sports Environment; More Recommended Reading; Creepy Quote of the Month; Support CCFC

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In this issue:

Advocates Urge FTC to Protect Teen Facebook Users

Earlier this month, CCFC was one of several advocacy groups who sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission urging the agency to protect teen Facebook users after the social network changed its privacy policies for teens and adults. The letter, which was written by the Center for Digital Democracy and signed by CCFC and 20 other advocacy groups, challenges changes to the “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities” that gives Facebook permission to use, for commercial purposes, the name, profile picture, actions, and other information of its teen users. Facebook’s underhanded marketing is one of many reasons CCFC is demanding that the social network keep current age restrictions in place and not open up the site to users 12 and under. If you haven’t yet signed our petition urging Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to leave young children alone, please visit http://org.salsalabs.com/o/621/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=13890.

Colorado Parents Win Right to Opt-Out of inBloom Database

Great news from Colorado, where CCFC has been working with local advocates to protect students’ personally identifiable information from being used for commercial purposes. Education officials in Jefferson County now say that they will give parents the right to opt-out of the controversial inBloom student database. It’s the latest setback for inBloom, which hopes to build a national database of personally-identifiable, student data and share that data with commercial vendors. To learn more about inBloom and CCFC’s work to protect student privacy, please visit: http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/action/inbloom.

CCFC in the News

  • Susan Linn shows how a commercialized, screen-saturated culture threatens children’s creativity in The New York Times Room for Debate.
  • In The New York Times Magazine, Josh Golin describes the threats to student privacy posed by the “No Child Left Untableted” movement.
  • Diane Levin discusses screen culture and her new book, Beyond Remote Control Childhood with parenting expert Barbera Meltz.

New Film Highlights How Junk Food Marketers Target Childre

How does Big Food build loyalty for its unhealthy products? A brand new video from Anna Lappé and Food MythBusters exposes how the fast-food industry hooks kids through predatory marketing designed to build lifelong brand loyalty. It’s a great way to learn more about how junk food marketers target children – and to educate your friends, family, and neighbors about why we need to create a healthful food environment for kids. http://foodmyths.org/

The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age  by Katherine Steiner-Adair

CCFC has long been at the forefront of the movement to reduce children’s screen time—and The Big Disconnect is an important tool for helping families and people who work with children address this challenging issue. As families are more and more consumed by screens —children constantly texting their friends, parents working online around the clock—everyday life is undergoing a massive transformation. Easy availability to the Internet and social media has erased the boundaries that protect children from the unsavory aspects of adult life. Parents often feel they are losing a meaningful connection with their children. Children are feeling lonely and alienated.

Renowned psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair has written a highly readable book—relying on research and her clinical experience to argue for the urgent need to set limits on how much and what kind of media children consume. Not only do chronic tech distractions have deep and lasting effects, but children desperately need parents to provide what tech cannot: close, significant interactions with the adults in their lives. Steiner-Adair offers insights and advice that can help parents achieve greater under-standing, authority, and confidence as they come up against the tech revolution unfolding in their living rooms.

Beyond Winning: Smart Parenting in a Toxic Sports Environment by Kim John Payne, Luis Fernando Llosa and Scott Lancaster

One byproduct of a commercialized childhood is that the values of the marketplace are adopted in all aspects of children’s lives. This is particularly clear in the realm of organized sports for children—where winning and competitiveness often crowd out the sheer joy of playing a game. Beyond Winning offers an alternative approach to teaching sports to kids. It deemphasizes short-term goals like winning and youth championships and discourages the introduction of adult-oriented, league-structured competition. Instead it emphasizes training techniques and coaching strategies aimed at improving core strength, balance, and creativity in aspiring athletes, using an age-appropriate, four-stage timeline, based on a child’s physical, psychological, and neurological development.

More Recommended Reading

  • In the CCFC blog, Michele Simon praises Michelle Obama for calling on the food industry "to empower parents instead of undermining them as they try to make healthier choices for their families” but wonders why the other Obama refuses to get tough with the food industry.
  • Talk about sleazy. Channel One News, the in-school network that shows ads during class time, is now airing Nintendo commercials staring one of its former news anchors. Just one more reason for schools to pull the plug on Channel One.
  • Last week, McDonald’s received a lot of positive PR when they appeared to announce that they were now removing sodas from their Happy Meals. But as Marion Nestle explains, the devil is in the details and it’s not time to put McDonald’s up on the pedestal just yet.

Creepy Quote of the Month Advertisers often claim that they are just giving children what they want – without acknowledging the role that marketing plays in shaping kids' development. Here's a classic – and creepy – example from Jim Silver, a toy analyst from Timetoplaymage.com explaining the success of Mattel’s Monster High dolls. "Kids are growing up much faster younger," claims Silver. "A 6-year-old is looking for something a little edgier." Really? Are the 6-year-olds in your lives looking for more edge?

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