May 2017

This is what screen-free looks like; Our new resource to protect student privacy; Keep corporate cameras out of cribs; Device use in young children can cause language delays; Facebook caught tracking the moods of vulnerable teens; Recommended reading and viewing

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In this issue: 

  • This is what screen-free looks like
  • Our new resource to protect student privacy
  • Keep corporate cameras out of cribs
  • Device use in young children can cause language delays
  • Facebook caught tracking the moods of vulnerable teens
  • Recommended reading and viewing

This is what screen-free looks like

Here are just a few images and videos from Screen-Free Week celebrations across the world! Share your stories—send us photos, videos, or anything else at ccfc@commercialfreechildhood.org


Watch: At Mounds Park Academy in St. Paul, a teacher makes good on his promise to paint his hair pink if students go screen-free!

Proud kids at Foster Academy, Louisville, KY with their Screen-Free certificates. A student won a bike at Van Dyke Elementary School in Coleraine, MN.  Kids + boxes = creativity at Fayerweather Street School in Cambridge, MA.

Linden Hill students get active at a roller rink in Wilmington, DE. Chicago Waldorf School students clean up Welles Park!

Our new resource to protect student privacy

As more learning, homework, and school records are moved online, parents are concerned about how their children’s sensitive data is used and stored. That’s why we teamed up with the Parent Coalition for Student Privacy to create the Parent Toolkit for Student Privacy: A Practical Guide for Protecting Your Child’s Sensitive School Data from Snoops, Hackers, and Marketers. The kit offers clear guidance about parental rights under federal law, helps parents ask the right questions about their schools’ data policies, and offers simple steps for advocating for better privacy policies and practices.

Thanks to a generous grant from the Rose Foundation for Communities and the Environment, the toolkit is free! Read all about it in the Washington Post and Education Week, and download your free copy today!

Keep corporate cameras out of cribs

CCFC and our supporters are demanding that Mattel end production of Aristotle, an Amazon Echo-like device for babies and young children. Mattel describes Aristotle, which is Wi-Fi enabled and has a camera and microphone, as a "smart baby monitor" that grows into an artificial intelligence "friend" that children can “become comfortable with and feel close to.” They say the device will help parents nurture and teach their child—but the price for this “help” is children’s health, wellbeing, and privacy. 

What impact does a lifelong relationship with a corporate network disguised as a friend have on children’s development? "Honestly speaking, we just don’t know,” Robb Fujioka, Mattel’s chief products officer, admitted in an astounding moment of truth-telling. “If we’re successful, kids will form some emotional ties to this,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be the right types of emotional ties.”

More than 15,000 people have signed petitions hosted by CCFC and our friends at Story of Stuff demanding Mattel not use kids as guinea pigs in AI experiments. Add your name and read more about the campaign at the Consumerist and Treehugger.

Device use in young children can cause language delays

An important new study finds that children who use handheld devices like tablets between six months and two years of age are more likely to develop speech delays. "For every additional 30 minutes of use per day, there was almost a 50% increase in language delay," explains Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, Associate Professor of Pediatrics at UW-Madison and CCFC Board Member. "The chance for them to catch up becomes harder and harder the older they get. I never want to find speech delay at age four or five, because the ability of the brain to rewire itself is already starting to decline by age five."

Dr. Navsaria notes that even having a TV on in the background can result in language delays. "You are far better than any device," he tells parents. 

Facebook caught tracking the moods of vulnerable teens 

Earlier this month, The Australian broke the story [note: paywalled] of how Facebook prepared research for advertisers outlining how their algorithms can determine when teens are feeling emotionally vulnerable. Facebook's 23-page “Confidential: Internal Only” document explains that “By monitoring posts, pictures, interactions and internet activity in real-time, Facebook can work out when young people feel ‘stressed’, ‘defeated’, ‘overwhelmed’, ‘anxious’, ‘nervous’, ‘stupid’, ‘silly’, ‘useless’, and a ‘failure’.”  

Facebook admits the research was conducted, but claims the premise of the article is misleading, and that they do not target advertising based on teens’ emotional vulnerabilities. But Facebook’s denial raises as many questions as it answers, not the least of which is: why is Facebook sharing this information with advertisers if not for targeted advertising? That’s why CCFC and 25 privacy organizations around the world are calling on Facebook to publicly disclose and explain its collection of psychological insights about young users. 

Recommended reading and viewing