February 2017

German authorities tell parents to destroy spying My Friend Cayla doll; Become a Screen-Free Week Endorser; CCFC Supports Maryland Legislation Protecting Kids; Being techwise with infants and toddlers; All kid-targeted food marketing is harmful; CCFC Board member Angela Campbell on protecting kids from marketing in the digital age; Playing It Up: With Loose Parts, Playpods, and Adventure Playgrounds; Recommended Reading; Support CCFC

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In this issue:

  • German authorities tell parents to destroy spying My Friend Cayla doll
  • Become a Screen-Free Week Endorser
  • CCFC Supports Maryland Legislation Protecting Kids
  • Being techwise with infants and toddlers
  • All kid-targeted food marketing is harmful
  • CCFC Board member Angela Campbell on protecting kids from marketing in the digital age 
  • Playing It Up: With Loose Parts, Playpods, and Adventure Playgrounds
  • Recommended Reading
  • Support CCFC

German authorities tell parents to destroy spying My Friend Cayla doll

The German Federal Network Agency, which oversees telecommunications, has directed German parents to destroy the internet-connected My Friend Cayla doll and banned any future sales. The agency ruled that the doll is equivalent to a “concealed transmitting device,” and therefore prohibited under German privacy law. In December 2016, CCFC was part of a coordinated global action to stop My Friend Cayla and I-Que dolls from spying on children, when we joined the Center for Digital Democracy, Consumers Union, and the Electronic Privacy Information Center in filing a Federal Trade Commission complaint against the dolls’ manufacturers. We also asked leading toy sellers to pull the doll – and Toys”R”Us, Target, and Walmart agreed.

Become a Screen-Free Week Endorser

Join CCFC and a long list of organizations who support Screen-Free Week, which takes place May 1 – 7, 2017. As an endorser, you become part of an important movement dedicated to reducing – and finding alternatives to – screen time. The international celebration, hosted in schools, communities and homes, encourages children and families to take a break from digital entertainment and reconnect with each other and life. This year, CCFC is partnering with Children’s Book Week. Other endorsers include Reach Out and Read, the American Public Health Association, the National Black Child Development Institute and the American Specialty Toy Retail Association. 

To become an endorser, please email us at ccfc@commercialfreechildhood.org. And if you are participating, please spread the word and encourage others to do the same!

CCFC supports Maryland legislation protecting kids

CCFC is proud to support legislation in Maryland to protect children from the harmful effects of overuse of classroom digital devices. House Bill 866 would require Maryland department of health to develop and implement guidelines for use of digital devices in public school classrooms. Given the documented health risks of screen time — including attention and hyperactivity disorders, sleep disturbances, vision problems, screen addiction and exposure to harmful commercialism — it is critical that schools have research based, age-appropriate guidelines to govern the use of screens in classrooms. Medical oversight will ensure that schools use technology ways that enhance children’s education without undermining their physical and social and emotional well-being.

The Maryland legislation is the first of its kind. We hope other states will follow suit! You can read our testimony in support of the bill here. For more information and to track the bill’s progress, please visit www.screensandkids.us.

Being techwise with infants and toddlers

A new book by early childhood experts Patricia Cantor and Mary Cornish is an important read for anyone who works with young children – both those who enthusiastically embrace digital technologies and those who are concerned about their use. Techwise Infant and Toddler Teachers acknowledges that some teachers feel pressure from parents, colleagues, or peers to incorporate screens for children at a younger age. We love this book because it consolidates research on all aspects of early childhood media, from language development and sleep disturbance to attention issues, relationships, and brain development. It helps teachers become aware that apps, videos, internet-connected toys and e-books are heavily marketed as educational for infants and toddlers, when there is no evidence of their value. With this book, teachers can build their media knowledge, engage in critical reflection, and effectively advocate for screen free classroom policies. Cantor and Cornish also suggest using technology in appropriate ways, like documenting activities and communicating with parents. Visit this page for more information and ordering.

All kid-targeted food marketing is harmful

CCFC is the first organization outside of Canada to join the Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition and endorse the Ottawa Principles, which call for the restriction of all food marketing to children 16 years old and younger. In his recent blog, CCFC Campaign Manager David Monahan explains why all food marketing — even for “healthy” foods — is harmful to kids. No matter the product being advertised, using manipulative tactics to influence kids’ food choices turns meal time into a game. CCFC is glad to join forces with Stop Marketing to Kids Coalition and other experts who agree that helping kids to develop healthy eating habits can and should be gimmick-free.

CCFC Board Member Angela Campbell on protecting kids from marketing in the digital age 

Georgetown Law professor and CCFC Board member Angela Campbell has written a definitive article explaining the need for new and better regulations to protect children from advertising. Rethinking Children’s Advertising Policies for the Digital Age describes how children’s media use has changed drastically in the last 20 years and argues that the framework for regulating advertising to children has not kept pace. The piece includes an intriguing historical overview of marketing to kids and offers starting points for policies that protect children from surveillance and targeted marketing. We highly recommend Angela’s piece for anyone interested in digging deeper into how children are vulnerable to advertising and why better policies are needed. For those not inclined to sink their teeth into a lengthy law review article, please check out this summary of the paper and interview with Professor Campbell at catholicphilly.com. 

Playing It Up: With Loose Parts, Playpods, and Adventure Playgrounds

Our friends at Alliance for Childhood make a compelling case for active, creative, and child-directed play in the new book Playing It Up: With Loose Parts, Playpods, and Adventure Playgrounds. Nationally recognized play expert Joan Almon has compiled over 20 examples of creative parks, playgrounds, and nature centers that allow kids to get dirty, problem solve, and cooperate. Play activists and leaders from across the U.S. offer insights on how to make these environments possible, with an emphasis on simple efforts that start at home and at school. The book stresses that while adults are there to guide, children can be empowered to create and manage their own play in wonderful ways. Learn more in this fact sheet, or order the book.

Recommended reading:

Support CCFC

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