CCFC Blog

We’re parents, and proud ones. Our kids, now ages 20 and 23, have each already enjoyed healthy, respectful relationships, which we regard as a far better marker of functional personhood than grades or money. Still, we’re glad they can support themselves now. Our only regret is having let them spend so much time with screens when they were kids, and then buying them laptops and smartphones which encouraged the practice. If we knew then what we know now, we would have deliberately carved out more time for family conversations and activities in real life. When the kids were small, screens didn’t seem like a big deal. “We trust their native instincts with food, and with rest,” we thought, “so why not trust their instincts on play?” Our parents...
Did you know that the average age children get their first smartphone is now ten? That’s incredibly young to be constantly connected to the internet; to worry about documenting every moment to share with friends and followers; to have unlimited access to games designed to be addictive; and to be accessible 24/7 to data miners and marketers who don’t have your best interests at heart. And of course, if ten is the average, that means many six, seven, and eight-year-olds now have their own phones as well. As young children see their friends getting phones, they naturally want one too. And parents, sometimes against our better judgement, often give in because we don’t want our children to be socially isolated...
Recently a group of parents and I started to discuss the mounting pressure to give our children their own smartphones at an early age.  We questioned why so many young children at school, sports, and parties are glued constantly to their smartphones. We wondered why on earth a first grader needed the latest iPhone 7. We agreed that the average age a child receives a smartphone—10 years old—is too young considering all the risks the device poses. Smartphones are extremely distractive and addictive. The unrestricted access to the internet exposes them to sexting, cyber-bullying, and sexual predators. Plus, children are not emotionally equipped to navigate tricky social media waters. Viewing someone else’s highlight reel on social media often...
Canada’s Parliament is considering a law that would ban junk food marketing to children under age 17. Food and nutrition researcher Monique Potvin Kent has conducted studies which point to an urgent need for these protections. Her concerns addressed to Canadian parents will resonate with parents everywhere. Dear Parents, I’m writing you because you may be in the dark about the amount of unhealthy food and beverage marketing your children and teens are viewing. This is not your fault. It’s our current reality. We’ve let food and beverage companies have a huge influence on our children. Twenty-five years ago, a parent might be expected to see and control most if not all advertising their child was exposed to on network TV and at the...
What if: Instead of taking, posting, and tagging pictures, we simply observe and be? Instead of broadcasting the eclipse for virtual audiences, we decide sharing with those we’ve chosen to watch with is enough? Instead of centering ourselves in the middle of the eclipse, we choose to experience our own cosmic insignificance in the face of one of the universe’s most spectacular events? Instead of modeling distraction for our kids, we let them model awe and wonder for us? Too often in our social media/smart phone era, we trade presence for documentation. If a once-in-a-lifetime event isn’t enough to make us appreciate the now, what is? 
With back-to-school approaching, it's the perfect time to download the Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy, a free resource from CCFC and the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy! Schools maintain digital dossiers with ever-growing amounts of personal information about students—things like test scores, income levels, social security numbers, and even immigration status. But most schools don't have strong policies to keep that information safe or prevent it from being shared with third parties. Our free Toolkit is designed to help parents understand what data schools collect, how it should be protected, and what parents can do to hold schools accountable.  Download the Toolkit today, and use it this semester to take real steps to protect...
On July 7, 2017, CCFC submitted comments in support of California AB375, the Broadband Privacy Act. This bill would replace privacy regulations rolled back by Congress at the national level earlier this year, and protect consumers from having their personal data--including browsing history--sold by their Internet Service Provider without their consent. Below is our comment.  Dear Assemblymember Chau:  Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) is a national non-profit, headquartered in Boston, which works to support parents’ efforts to raise healthy families by limiting commercial access to children and ending the exploitive practice of child-targeted marketing. More than 5,400 California residents are members of CCFC and...
My name is Katy Smith, and I am a licensed parent educator in Minnesota. My work is to create communities that support and nurture children in early childhood. Even though thousands of miles separate my classroom and CCFC’s office in Boston, I consider them a true partner in my work and am proud to be a supporter. In 2011, I was honored to be named Minnesota Teacher of the Year – the first ever early childhood educator to receive the award. I still pinch myself sometimes that it was real (the photo on the right is me at the White House – I’m the one in the blue blazer and pearls behind President Obama!). One amazing thing about being a Teacher of the Year is that it allowed me a broader platform to talk about how to help...
We’re excited to share with you some great new tools from ChangeLab Solutions to stop marketers from targeting kids in schools. We hope you’ll use them to encourage your school district to adopt policies that give students the protections they deserve! Starting next school year, under U.S. Department of Agriculture regulations, local education agencies or school districts must have in place a “local school wellness policy” to create a school environment that promotes students’ health, well-being, and ability to learn. Under the baseline policy, all foods and beverages sold to students must meet USDA nutrition standards, and products that don’t meet those standards can’t be marketed in schools. This is a great start,...
We’re excited to share our new resource to help parents protect their children’s privacy! Today’s schools are more connected than ever: most education records are stored digitally, and students and staff use apps and websites for daily instruction, homework, and administrative tasks. These apps, websites, and digital storage vendors collect a wide variety of data about students, including kids’ names, birth dates, internet browsing histories, grades, test scores, disabilities, disciplinary records, family income information, and more—often without parental consent or clear, adequate security protections.   We’ve heard from multiple parents who want to know: what are schools allowed to do with this...

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