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Kids, Back to School Marketing and the FTC's Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe Online

A new school year is on the horizon and retailers expect back-to-school spending per household between $510 (Deloitte) and $685 (National Retail Federation). Billions of dollars are at stake, and children influence 70% of their parents’ back-to-school purchasing choices (Deloitte). Accordingly, retailers are running a massive campaign to have their sale offers be spoken by children to their parents.

This campaign is being enacted less through television, bound as it is by the ties of FCC regulation, and more through social media. In this new platform, advertisers are no longer bound by regimented thirty-second clips. Now they can seamlessly integrate their communications into the content provided by social media influencers, a new class of celebrity adored by children and whom parents will likely never see in television or film.

The pervasive availability of marketing through devices opens a new world of wellness, monetary, and security concerns.

In a blog post yesterday, the Federal…
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i-Dressup Shuts Down in Wake of Privacy Breach and COPPA Violation

I-Dressup, a fashion-themed social website for teens, has completely shut down as part of a settlement with the New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs, following a massive privacy breach and violations of the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and New Jersey state law. In September 2016, a hacker sent 2.2 million i-Dressup account credentials to technology blog Arstechnica as well as to, a searchable online database of data breaches.

Responding to the news, New Jersey investigators discovered that 2,519 of the compromised accounts belonged to New Jersey children below age 13. I-Dressup, allegedly aware that it had child users, had violated COPPA by failing to obtain verifiable parental consent prior to collecting and processing personal information from the children, including first and last names and email addresses. In a consent decree with the New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Gerwal, parent company Unixiz has closed i-Dressup, agre…

Facebook Acts Swiftly On Moderation Errors

Recently, an undercover reporter discovered that some Facebook moderators being told to ignore accounts possibly registered to users under 13. The trainer and moderators were employees of Cpl, one of several companies Facebook utilizes to conduct content review. Facebook policy prohibits users under 13, and the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) prohibits users under 13 without parental consent. Facebook responded in a statement: "We take these mistakes incredibly seriously and are grateful to the journalists who brought them to our attention. ... [W]e immediately required all trainers in Dublin to do a re-training session — and are preparing to do the same globally. ... While users will still not need ID to sign up they may be required to provide it if their account is flagged as being underage."

Read early coverage on Techspot here
Read the statement from Facebook here. Viewers in the United Kingdom can watch Facebook: Secrets of the Social Networkhere.

Research Suggests Social Media Benefit to Kids

Findings in a study by the National Institutes of Health offer an unexpected challenge to the common-sense notion that all time children spend in front of a screen is equally harmful. The study affirms that children’s consumption of general media, such as Internet, television, and video games, correlates with worse sleep and more family conflict. However, the data also indicates a correlation between greater use of social media, such as texting or scrolling through Instagram posts, with positive effects, such as increased physical activity, less family conflict, and fewer sleep problems. These findings are part of 30 terabytes of data released by the NIH with regard to the first 45 out of a total of 75 youth and their families who participated in the massive brain development study.
Read more about this specific aspect of the study on NPR
Read more about the overall study at NIH

Apple Releases 'Digital Wellness' Features for Managing iPhone Addiction

Apple is making moves to prioritize the well being of its users. At its Worldwide Developer Conference yesterday, the tech giant announced new controls that will allow its users to monitor how much time they spend on their device, set time limits on app usage, control the distraction of notifications, and control children's time of devices. These efforts have been met with mixed reactions, with some questioning if they go far enough.

For more information about Apple's new controls, check out this article by Tech Crunch.

The FTC Reminds Us That Data Deletion is Required by COPPA

Amidst the chaos of GDPR, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) took a moment today to address data deletion requirements. The FTC reminded us that when it comes to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that it's not just about obtaining verifiable parental consent before collecting children's information. The FTC reminds companies that there are certain instances where COPPA requires companies to delete children's information, even when parents haven't requested that the company do so. The FTC gave the example of a subscription based service where the parent does not renew. In this case, the child's information must be deleted and the company must use reasonable security measures to ensure it has been disposed of. To read more about what the FTC had to say, visit the blog here.

Democratic Senators Say that Kids TV Mandate Should Stay

A group of democratic senators, led by Senator Ed Markey are calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to leave its kids television mandates in place.

Senator Markey believes the 'Kid Vid' rules still remain important, especially for those families who rely on free broadcast television for educational content and cannot afford access to internet with speeds necessary for streaming online content.

To read more on this topic, click here.