Booming Computer Sales Still Cannot Meet School Demand

Remote working, learning and home entertainment have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, and with it, sales of personal computers. Gartner reports that sales of Chromebooks have risen 90 percent in the third quarter, in part driven by school districts’ desperate need for Chromebooks and low-cost laptops for students learning from home. Gartner states that worldwide PC sales rose about 9 percent year-over-year in the quarter, with Chromebooks representing 11 percent of the combined market. Continue reading Booming Computer Sales Still Cannot Meet School Demand

Judge Greenlights Facebook’s $5B Agreement With the FTC

U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge Timothy Kelly approved a deal reached last summer whereby Facebook will pay a $5 billion fine to settle with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy violations related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook will also be restricted in some of its business decisions and will be subject to ongoing oversight. Facebook chief privacy officer for product Michel Protti noted that the agreement “has already brought fundamental changes to our company.” Continue reading Judge Greenlights Facebook’s $5B Agreement With the FTC

Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

Walmart’s video streaming service Vudu is introducing both a suite of tools to help parents better control what their children watch and its first original series, the family-oriented 11-episode “Mr. Mom,” a reboot of MGM’s 1983 comedy written by John Hughes. The first two episodes of “Mr. Mom” debuted September 12. The new tools include Family Play, which allows viewers to automatically skip or mute profanity, sex, nudity, violence and substance abuse. Also on tap are reviews and ratings from Common Sense Media. Continue reading Vudu to Release Family Viewing Controls, “Mr. Mom” Reboot

Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

YouTube, founded in 2005, has operated outside the advertising rules that regulate television broadcasting. But due to its significant reach and influence, the site is now under scrutiny for potential regulation — which will likely start with children’s programming. A digital influencer like 15-year old JoJo Siwa is a case in point: she draws millions of young female viewers to her quirky videos. But she also inks endorsement deals and sells branded fashion lines with Target, blurring the lines between content and advertising. Continue reading Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

Seventeen groups, including Common Sense Media, Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy have filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission, claiming that Facebook has deliberately duped children into making in-app purchases on games including “Angry Birds,” “PetVille” and “Ninja Saga.” The purchases were often made without parental permission, and Facebook makes it “nearly impossible” for parents seeking refunds. The accusation originates in a 2012 class-action lawsuit. Continue reading Facebook Hit with FTC Complaint on Children’s In-App Buys

Studies on Kids and Tech Flip the Meaning of Digital Divide

Experts are coming to grips with the impact of digital technology on children. Educators worried that students from poor homes would find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide, but, in fact, many states are spending money to make sure that all their students have access to computers, while Silicon Valley parents are choosing to raise their children with traditional toys and non-digital activities. The reason is that technologists are privy to recent research about the dangers of exposing kids to screen time. Continue reading Studies on Kids and Tech Flip the Meaning of Digital Divide

California Law Would Require Social Platforms to Report Bots

State legislators in California are pushing for a law that would require Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms to identify bots, automated accounts that can be created or used by individuals or organizations. Most recently, bots, reportedly out of Russia, generated hundreds of posts on gun control in the wake of the shooting in Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Russia-linked bots also played a role sharing Donald Trump’s tweets almost 500,000 times in the final weeks of the 2016 election. Continue reading California Law Would Require Social Platforms to Report Bots

YouTube Updating its “Kids” App with Better Parental Controls

YouTube is updating its dedicated “Kids” app, first launched in February this year, in the wake of parent and consumer group complaints that its protections against inappropriate content were insufficient. YouTube Kids is divided into categories — Shows, Music, Learning, Explore — but also offers a search feature that can lead to videos outside of the curated lists. The newly updated app, which includes support for Chromecast and Apple TV as well as guest-curated playlists, is expected to be available in the next few weeks. Continue reading YouTube Updating its “Kids” App with Better Parental Controls

New Report Predicts Massive International Growth for Netflix

Netflix is poised to significantly expand its international subscriber base, according to research from Goldman Sachs. The company is expected to add six new markets this year, followed by four new markets annually. Its total of 11.7 million paid international subscribers, reported at the end of the first quarter, is projected to grow to 62 million by the end of 2017. Since mobile is considered a platform for potential growth, Goldman expects a shift in viewing among toddlers and children. Continue reading New Report Predicts Massive International Growth for Netflix