November 2018

We need you to stand up to Facebook; What do kids learn from technology?; Manipulative Pre-K Apps; Kids and Materialism; Screen-Free Communities; Students Protest Summit; Recommended Reading

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In this issue:

  • We need you to stand up to Facebook
  • What do kids learn from technology?
  • Manipulative Pre-K Apps
  • Kids and Materialism
  • Screen-Free Communities
  • Students Protest Summit
  • Recommended Reading

We need you to stand up to Facebook

CCFC has been standing up to powerful companies for nearly 20 years, which means we've seen practically every PR tactic in the book. But even we were shocked by last week's explosive exposé of Facebook in the New York Times. In order to cover up misdeeds and shield itself from critics, Facebook has deployed an army of lobbyists, opposition research firms, and publicists – including Definers, a right-wing opposition research group who claimed Facebook's critics were illegitimate shills funded by a left-wing billionaire. 

We now know that Definers played a part in trying to quash our campaign against Facebook Messenger Kids, the first major social network for young children. Definers placed at least one op-ed claiming our concerns about 5-year-olds using Facebook were much ado about nothing, and even claimed that the people involved used to oppose Sesame Street. (No CCFC campaign has ever addressed Sesame Street, never mind opposed it.) At the time, the piece seemed like just another PR move. Now, it's an illustration of just how unequal the playing field is. 

CCFC doesn't have Facebook's resources. We did the math, and our entire annual budget is roughly equal to eleven minutes of revenue at Facebook. We don't hire PR firms. Our advocacy gets covered by the New York Times and Washington Post because it's evidence-based and supported by well-known experts in media and child development. We don't have lobbyists. When Senator Dick Durbin read from our Messenger Kids letter as he grilled Mark Zuckerberg, it was because he shared our concerns, not because we bought him dinner.

We have you – and we need you now more than ever. Help hold companies that target children accountable by supporting CCFC today.

CCFC vs. Facebook is something of a David and Goliath story, but it's nothing compared to Facebook vs. Children. We're the only organization working to stop Facebook and other tech giants from targeting kids with intrusive, ad-supported technology, and we can't do it alone. Please donate today

What do kids learn from technology?

On November 15, the Children's Screen Time Action Network was honored to host Dr. Nancy Carlsson-Paige for a conversation about technology and young children. For Dr. Carlsson-Paige, "knowing how kids develop and learn is the single most important resource we have for making decisions about screen use." But how do kids learn? In her one-on-one interview with CCFC's Jean Rogers, Dr. Carlsson-Paige offered six core concepts about children's development and explored technology's impact on each one using examples from her own life as a grandparent. For instance, does a child using a multiplication app really understand the concept of 5, and that two 5s make a 10, or is he just memorizing the right answer? This webinar and its companion parent guide are excellent resources for families, educators, and anyone interested in knowing more about healthy child development.

Manipulative Pre-K Apps

Last month, we led a coalition of 22 groups asking the FTC to investigate the pre-school app market, and now, legislators are taking action. Using findings from a new University of Michigan study, our letter detailed how many popular apps for young children manipulate kids into watching ads and making in-app purchases. Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Tom Udall (D-NM), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) have urged the FTC to investigate, saying "Children should be able to entertain themselves and play without being bombarded by promotional messages, which young people may not be able to accurately assess and identify as marketing." CCFC's Josh Golin joined Senator Blumenthal at a press conference on November 26, calling on the FTC to promptly take action to protect kids and families from these unethical and deceptive marketing practices. If you're interested in learning more about this issue, join us on Monday, December 10 for our next webinar, Are Apps Manipulating Young Children?

Kids and Materialism

How do marketers get people to buy so much stuff? They say it'll make us happy! But the truth is that a focus on having and getting stuff is more likely to make people – including kids! – unhappy. Learn more about advertising, materialism, and kids' wellbeing in our brand new fact sheet. And if you want to learn even more, check out this piece about raising non-materialistic kids, featuring CCFC Board member Dr. Tim Kasser.

Screen-Free Communities

Screen-Free Week celebrations take place in homes, schools, and libraries around the world. But did you know that communities also hold Screen-Free Week celebrations? Whether as a healthy community initiative or just a chance to gather people of all ages, Screen-Free Week is quickly gaining popularity as a fun and meaningful community-wide celebration. Here's how the town of Round Hill, Virginia launched its first Screen-Free Week celebration this year.

Students Protest Summit

We're cheering on the Brooklyn high school students who staged a walkout to protest their school's use of Summit Learning Platform, a "personalized learning" system backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg! In their letter to Zuckerberg, student leaders said Summit hindered learning and critical thinking, collected too much personal data, and "severely damaged" their education. "We refuse to be experimented on in this way," they wrote. Read their whole letter in the Washington Post.

Recommended Reading