TikTok Broke Privacy Promises, Children’s Groups Say New York Times Reasons to read: CCFC, our friends at Center for Digital Democracy, and a coalition of children’s and consumer advocacy groups this week filed a complaint against TikTok, alleging that the company, despite a 2019 settlement with the FTC, is continuing to collect personal information from children under the age of 13, in violation of COPPA.
Screen New Deal The Intercept Reasons to read: A chilling account of disaster capitalism at work, as Google’s Eric Schmidt and other edtech companies are pushing to “reimagine” education in ways that put tech before teachers.
Media was woven into the fabric of our young lives. Beloved screen characters became household names. If you think hard, you’ll hear old sitcom theme songs in your head. Generations have witnessed history on TV. Events such as Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the moon, President Ronald Reagan imploring Mikhail Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall!,” and the inauguration of our first African-American president, Barak Obama, have become part of our collective conscience.
As we chose careers that protect and defend childhood, and as some of us became parents ourselves, we never thought these media would betray us.
During COVID-19, we find ourselves in a tug of war between our understanding of screens’ connecting power and our knowledge of its invasion into child development, family relationships, and learning. We have a vague sense of the corporate, profit-driven motives behind the coup. We’ve heard the terms “disaster capitalism” and “edtech takeover.” Yet we fear if we dig too deeply into these concepts, we’ll make ourselves crazy.
Some of us wonder, “Am I being a hypocrite?” “I pulled my kids out of Google classroom, now I depend on it to get my work done.” “I fought against Prodigy, now I have no choice but to use it.” I’m here to tell you, it’s completely normal to be confused. We’re confused and so are the kids. Here are some quotes from kids about doing school at home:
“Little sisters are annoying. I hope we can go back to school soon.” Derek, age 12.
“Parents are not good at home schooling. I wish I could have my teacher and my friends again.” Dahlia, age 11.
“I like that I can be with my parents all day because I really, really love them.” Judah, age 7.
“You can go outside and play when you finish your work, while at school, you have to read silently after you finish.” Shelby, age 10.
So, while we are working to stem the tide of screen overuse, we know that ultimately it’s the kids who will speak up for their own lives. Who will be the Greta Thunberg or Aly Raisman of the Screen Time movement? Soon I will be interviewing two teens who have taken strong actions to be positive screen role models for their peers. We’ll be establishing a youth seat on our Action Network Advisory Board. We’re working with organizations that harness the incredible creativity of our youth and empower them to speak up for themselves and for younger generations who will have years of schooling left after this coronavirus pandemic is over.
Fred Rogers so aptly recognized this tension in his Television Hall of Fame award speech:
“I feel that those of us in television are chosen to be servants. … We are chosen to help meet the deeper needs of those who watch and listen, day and night. The conductor of the orchestra at the Hollywood Bowl grew up in a family that had little interest in music, but he often tells people he found his early inspiration from the fine musicians on television. Last month a 13-year-old boy abducted an 8-year-old girl. And when people ask him why, he said, he learned about it on TV. ‘Something different to try,’ he said. ‘Life’s cheap. What does it matter.’ Well, life isn’t cheap. … [T]hrough television, we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life or to cherish it, in creative, imaginative ways.”
Here’s to our continued struggle and the children who will help us resolve it.