Imagine a baby waking at night and being soothed not by a loving adult, but by a device equipped with a camera, microphone, and speaker. As the baby grows, she begins to form an attachment to her “digital nanny.” For years, she plays with, talks to, and confides in it – all under the watchful eyes of the manufacturer and its retail partners.
This isn’t dystopian fiction. It’s Mattel’s vision of Aristotle, an always-on, artificially intelligent device for kids that the company planned to release in 2018.
But before that could happen, CCFC took action. We organized privacy and child development experts to explain how Aristotle threatened children’s wellbeing. We helped legislators ask Mattel pointed questions about how it would use kids’ data. Our campaign mobilized more than 20,000 people and made headlines around the world. And in October, Mattel announced Aristotle was cancelled.
This victory is huge, but it’s just the beginning. Kids are spending more time with digital devices than ever, enchanted by addictive-by-design apps that serve commercialized content and send troves of data to corporations. For marketers profiting off of children, it’s a dream world. No wonder Mattel called Aristotle “the nursery of the future.”
But they were wrong. For every Aristotle, there are countless people who know that babies should be soothed by caregivers, not corporations; that kids’ bedrooms should be free of marketers’ surveillance; that play should be driven by children’s creativity, not commercial scripts; and that face-to-face time still matters. And when we work together, we win.
The future of childhood is not in the hands of marketers. It’s in your hands, right now. Your gift to CCFC is an investment in what childhood should be: a time of creative exploration, human connection, and physical play.
CCFC’s advocacy has never been more important. No other organization tracks marketers’ plans so meticulously or responds more effectively. And no one is building a movement like we are.
Last month, we launched the Children’s Screen Time Action Network, a first-of-its-kind coalition of practitioners, educators, and advocates who believe that reducing kids’ screen time is both necessary and possible.
The doctors, childcare providers, teachers, librarians, and other profession¬als in the Network know that ad-supported screens undermine children’s wellbeing. They’re ready to move beyond naming the problem and start creating solutions. By giving Network members resources, trainings, and space to connect, we’ll help children get the offline, commercial-free time they need to thrive.
Your support is crucial for this work. Together, we can ensure that childhood is shaped by what’s best for kids.
Thanks for all you do to build a better world for children.
Executive Director, CCFC