CCFC Blog

The authors of a new study find that 92% of the episodes they reviewed of the 50 most popular shows among kids aged 2 to 11 featured some form of "social aggression" -- on average about 14 incidents per hour. Physical bullying was present in roughly 80% of the shows they reviewed. These statistics are troubling to advocates for children, especially considering concerns over the rise of real-life bullying among kids.  Read more about the study here.
On Thursday, the Alabama State Board of Education will meet to discuss the future of Channel One News in Alabama’s schools.  And your board representative needs to hear from you. For more than 20 years, far too many Alabama schoolchildren have been forced to watch Channel One’s commercials in their classrooms every day.  But thanks to the efforts of advocates like you, educators are having a long overdue discussion about how Channel One commercializes education, wastes taxpayer funded class time, and promotes inappropriate websites, movies, and products to a captive audience of students.   This summer, CCFC sent a letter to Alabama State Superintendent Thomas Bice (many of you wrote to him as well) urging his office to conduct a thorough...
CCFC is proud to be part of a broad coalition working to protect children’s privacy online. In August, along with 17 other organizations, we filed five separate complaints with the FTC against McDonald’s, Subway, General Mills, Nickelodeon, and Cartoon Network for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The complaints urge the FTC to investigate these companies for unfair and deceptive marketing practices that use refer-a-friend campaigns to incite children to engage in viral marketing. These campaigns invite children to submit their own, and their friends’, personal information without obtaining parental consent. You can read the complaint here. This week, the coalition petitioned the FTC to update COPPA by giving...
For nearly 25 years, Channel One News has been the nation’s most pernicious in-school advertiser, usurping taxpayer-funded class time by showing student-targeted commercials to a captive audience of schoolchildren. But there are signs that Channel One’s days may be numbered. Many schools have dumped the network and its student audience has shrunk from 8.1 million in 2000 to 5.5 million today.  But that’s 5.5 million too many. And now, in a desperate attempt to make up for lost revenue, Channel One is escalating its daily commercial assault by advertising inappropriate and disreputable websites to students and  turning entire broadcasts into ads. That’s why CCFC is calling on state departments of education to conduct a thorough review of...
We've got great news about our ongoing efforts to hold the so-called "genius baby" industry accountable for its false and deceptive marketing. Today, the Federal Trade Commission filed false advertising charges against the marketers of "Your Baby Can Read," a video series which retailed for as much as $200. In April 2011, CCFC filed an FTC complaint against Your Baby Can, LLC and its spokesperson and founder, Dr. Robert Titzer. Today's FTC action is a direct result of CCFC's efforts. Your Baby Can and former CEO Hugh Penton have agreed to settle the FTC's charges. The settlement bars the defendants from further use of the phrase "Your Baby Can Read" and imposes a $185 million judgment -- equal to the company's gross sales since 2008 --...
Your Baby Can Read
Great news! Your Baby Can, the producers of the video series Your Baby Can Read!, will no longer be deceiving families. The company, which falsely claimed its product taught babies to read, has shut down. Last year, CCFC petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to stop Your Baby Can, LLC and Dr. Robert Titzer, its founder and spokesperson, from marketing Your Baby Can Read! as educational for babies. The extensive television advertising for the $200 product, targeted mainly to parents of disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds, claimed that a “short window of opportunity” for reading begins in infancy—yet there is no evidence that any such “window” exists. Nor is there evidence to support any of the company’s...
This post was written by Mary Rothschild, Director of Healthy Media Choices, a non-profit that works with parents and teachers of children birth to age eight toward unique strategies for intentional use of media. She also facilitates Witness for Childhood, an effort to bring the voices of progressive humanist and faith communities into the conversation about media and technology in the lives of young children. Family meal times are getting a lot of press right now, and high time. Recent articles in The Christian Science Monitor by Mary Beth McCauley and the New York Times by Susan Dominus as well as the Huffington Post's on-going series "Family Dinner Table Talk" extoll the virtues of this time-honored (but oft...
Let's get one thing straight. The notion that instituting parental controls for Facebook's underage users or creating a kid-friendly version will keep pre-teens off of the regular—or unrestricted—site is ridiculous. The 7.5 million children under the age of 13 who are lying to get on the site will continue lie with or without their parents' permission. According to Microsoft research, only 35 percent of parents whose kids are on Facebook actually know about it. Child development experts and marketers know that aspiration is a core element of childhood. Little kids long to be like bigger kids. Preteens want to be teenagers. And teens want to be in their twenties. After all, the readers of Seventeen Magazine aren't seventeen. At...
"Technology-handling skills" and "the app gap" are catch phrases among early childhood educators these days. Low-income kids, the argument goes, are disadvantaged by inadequate exposure to tablets and other new technologies. But as Matt Richtel pointed out in the New York Timesrecently, children from low-income families spend more time handling technology—across platforms—than their wealthier counterparts, and across class, kids mainly use their "handling skills" for entertainment. They play games, watch videos, and visit social networking sites. There are documented gaps in the education of low-income children—for instance, in vocabulary and reading—but research shows that the time young kids spend with technology takes them away...
I failed miserably at Screen-Free Week. Alright, maybe not miserably. Here is the context: my husband Neal and I are home caring for our very new baby, Wes. He is our first child and the love of our lives, and he consumes just about every moment and every ounce of energy we have (just as he is supposed to). Every other day or so, Wes falls into a deep sleep in the evening and Neal and I giddily steal some time to watch an episode of X-Files. I had no idea how crucial this 45 minutes of “zone-out” time was to my new mother sanity until I tried to give it up for Screen-Free Week last Monday. I was hunting aliens with Mulder and Scully on Tuesday. I was disappointed in myself. Last year my Screen-Free Week was a total success. So...

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