December 2018 Newsletter
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Your Support Makes It All Possible

It's been an incredible year here at CCFC! In this edition of our monthly newsletter, we're looking back at some of our favorite stories, campaigns, and moments, along with some breaking news.

There is no doubt that corporate marketing interferes with children's development, and that the techniques that advertisers use to target kids are more invasive, unfair, and insidious than ever. But there's also no denying the movement to reclaim childhood is growing, with new and often surprising allies emerging every day. 

We owe all of our success and growth to our supporters. As you look back on all we've accomplished together in 2018, please consider a tax-deductible contribution to CCFC. Thank you for standing with us as we work to create a healthier, happier, more playful childhood for all children.


Tell Google: Apps Shouldn't Play Kids

Parents should be able to trust that anything recommended "for children" is actually safe for kids – but when it comes to apps on Google's Play Store, they can't. Google routinely recommends apps that illegally collect children's data, interrupt gameplay with deceptive advertising, pressure kids into making in-app purchases, and even model harmful behavior like cleaning your eyes with sharp objects! So this week, we led a coalition of 22 consumer groups in filing a Federal Trade Commission complaint against Google's deceptive marketing of kids' apps. Our complaint was featured in dozens of media outlets, including the New York Times

We're working with our allies to ensure the FTC takes action, but investigations take time and Google needs to clean up their act now. Sign our petition and urge Google to adopt CCFC's Kids' App Store Standards – simple rules that require a human review of each app and ban in-app purchases, unfair advertising, and illegal data collection. If they do, Google can make parents' lives easier, and kids' experiences safer. Tell Google: Apps shouldn't play kids!


Our Latest Webinars

Our most recent webinar offers an insider view of our latest campaign with students from Georgetown Law's Institute of Public Representation! The team who helped prepare our FTC complaint against Google detail the ways Android apps manipulate children and families. Learn about the common tactics apps use to target kids, like using beloved characters to sell in-app purchases or interrupting gameplay with invasive ads. Plus, get an overview of how kids' apps risk children's privacy and what parents and practitioners can do to protect children from these unethical practices.

And don't miss our next webinar on January 14, which explores the relationship between excessive screen time in early childhood and problematic media use in adolescence. Cris Rowan, occupational therapist and founder of Zone'In Programs, and Hilarie Cash, Ph.D., co-founder and Chief Clinical Officer of reSTART Life, PLLC, will offer specific, practical early interventions that can reduce the risks of children's screen use. Register here.


2018 Campaign Highlights

Kiddie marketers work hard, but CCFC works harder – we led so many campaigns in 2018, we only have the space to give them a sentence each! (1) Our call to cancel Facebook Messenger Kids got more than 20,000 signatures, the support of 100+ media and child development experts, and a shout-out in the halls of Congress. (2) We exposed how Google illegally collects children's data on YouTube and uses it to target them with ads. (3) After 28 years of pumping ads into classrooms and more than a decade of opposition from CCFC, Channel One News closed its doors. (4) After public criticism from CCFC, Netflix cancelled a new feature that rewarded kids for binge-watching TV shows. (5) With our friends at Defending the Early Years, we launched a call to reject online pre-K and fund real universal early education. (6) We organized hundreds of mental health professionals to take a stand against persuasive design that keeps kids on ad-supported screens – and now the American Psychological Association is reviewing our proposal for action!


Our Best Resources

We don't just stand up to Big Tech; we create and distribute resources for parents, caregivers, educators, and others who want to help kids get time and space away from commercialism. This year, the Resource Library at the Children's Screen Time Action Network grew to 103 free, ready-to-use resources for parents and professionals!

Among them are 7 recordings of our Action Network webinars, including Screen Schooled with authors/teachers Matt Miles and Joe Clement, and this incredibly useful guide to pre-school technology use from esteemed early childhood educator Dr. Nancy Carlsson-Paige. We also released a brand-new fact sheet that lays out the research on kids, commercialism, materialism, and wellbeing. Plus, we heard from folks around the country who are using our Student Privacy Toolkit to push for change in their children's schools. 


Taking Action on Kids' Screen Time

When CCFC launched the Children's Screen Time Action Network, we had no idea how fast it would grow. One year later, we're thrilled to host an international coalition nearly 700 members strong! Action Network members aren't just talking about the risks of screen time – they're doing something about it. At our two-day conference in April, more than 200 experts and advocates met face-to-face to share research, swap best practices, and establish professional working groups focused on mental health, early childhood, screens in schools, children and nature, and faith communities. Now the working groups are leading their own campaigns and creating new resources for change. And throughout the year, our free webinars drew in thousands of people to learn about tech and kids' development, manipulative design, and how screens impact family relationships. We're thrilled with what the Network has achieved so far, and can't wait to grow even more in 2019! If you're not a member yet, you can join here.


Screen-Free Week Went Big

As we anticipate Screen-Free Week 2019, we want to pause and thank this year's organizers and endorsers for making Screen-Free Week 2018 so meaningful, memorable, and fun for children worldwide. Over 100 organizations endorsed and promoted the week the event. And we loved every one of your stories, photos and articles about successful, heart-warming celebrations! We've learned over the years that Screen-Free Week is about more than taking a break from digital entertainment: it's also a time to rethink how and when we use screens. Thanks to Screen-Free Week, families around the world have been inspired to take screen-free meals, weekends, and vacations, and to limit the effects of commercialism on their children by limiting their use of ad-driven media. CCFC is proud to host Screen-Free Week, and in 2019, we'll launch a brand new SFW website to make organizing and finding local celebrations even easier!

Recommended Reading

A look back at some of our favorite reads of the year featuring our staff, Board, and friends of CCFC.


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Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
89 South St., Suite 403
Boston, Massachusetts 02111

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