Common Sense Media Strives to be ‘AARP for Kids’


A California nonprofit organization which rates children’s media recently announced that it plans to become an advocate for educational technology, early childhood education and other issues.

The San Francisco-based organization, Common Sense Media, offers free reviews and ratings of children’s media, including television shows, movies, video games and apps. The organization’s founder and chief executive, James P. Steyer, said he plans to use the 65 million users as “an army of advocates for kids.”

“Our goal is to be AARP for kids,” Steyer said in a telephone interview Monday. “We’re going to ask people to step up and make kids and education the number one priority in this country.”

Steyer added that the group plans to urge state lawmakers into action on a broad range of topics including access to digital classroom technology and the privacy of student data in order to improve upon career and technical education, as well as childhood poverty, writes Emma Brown for The Washington Post.

“We have a simple mission: to make kids and education the nation’s top priority,” said Steyer. “To ensure America remains the world’s economic leader, we must invest in the education, health and overall well-being kids need to succeed. … Common Sense Kids Action is working to ensure that no decision is made in this country without thinking about children and their education first.”

The goal of the organization is to promote high-quality digital learning with well-trained teachers for all students.  The group plans to ensure that all children are capable of using technology, while at the same time keeping their personal information private.

The group would like to see the Federal Communications Commission provide Internet access to low-income families to ensure their children can make use of the web and learning apps so they can keep up with their homework assignments, writes Natasha Singer for The New York Times.

The organization plans to begin its efforts in California and 12 other states as well as Washington, DC.  The group will look to legislative and political action in the areas of early childhood education, technology in the classroom, childhood poverty, career education and online privacy and safety.

Last year the organization was successful in its efforts to lobby in California for a bill that to strengthen privacy protections surrounding student data.  The new law not only makes it illegal for companies to sell the personal information of students, but also prohibits using that information for targeted advertising or making a profile of students for any reason that is not educational.  President Barack Obama has since cited the bill when making a similar push to federal lawmakers, reports Carla Rivera for The LA Times.

To date, the organization has raised $20 million to fund the new effort, called Common Sense Kids Action.