Joan Ganz Cooney was one of the founders of Sesame Street some forty years ago. Today, the center named after her, continues her important legacy by calling for a revitalization of The Children’s Television Act, which was put in place in 1990. Their findings were published in a report, “D is for Digital.”
The report strongly recommends an increase in protection of children from commercialism, and that so much has changed since the first act was put in place, it necessitates new provisions for television and online content.
Much of the concerns are with the integrated advertising content that has arrived in the age of ad-skipping technology and immersing gaming sites, plus addictive online “communities” for very young children that are directly tied to offline toy sales, such as Webkinz. Webkinz recently began running advertising in its site — along with the mandatory toy purchase for entry.
Other concerns are that the current content lacks valid educational standards, and the need to incorporate newer legislation such as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Actionable outcomes from the report, the Center urges, should be parental awareness and involvement, transparency of sponsored content, improved standards for what constitutes educational content, recognition of the media that adheres to these standards, and for industry to create business models for kids’ online sites that are not dependent on advertising revenues.
You can view the “D is for Digital” report at the Joan Ganz Clooney Center.
Other resources for interested parents:
Common Sense Media’s Digital Kids Initiative
[This post was written by Beth Bader.]