CARU Public Service Announcement Asks Parents: "Do You Really Know Where Your Children Are on the Internet?"

  
     
August 17, 2010

New York, NY – August 11, 2010 –The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., recently launched its first public service announcements, cautioning parents to be alert to their children’s activities on the Internet.

The PSAs can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/user/CARUSelfRegulation.

The spots feature Catherine Hicks, star of the family drama “Seventh Heaven,” and they recast the time-honored broadcast message “It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?” to reflect contemporary concerns about the privacy and safety of children on the Internet.

“As a learning tool, the Internet provides an amazing depth and breadth of information about the world. As an entertainment vehicle, it can offer experiences that are creative, engaging and fun,” said CARU Director Wayne J. Keeley. “But beyond the boundaries of age-appropriate Web content is territory that is far less benign. It is critical that parents know where their children go on the Internet.”

The PSAs feature three scenarios:

  • The first spot features young girls viewing an Internet fan-club site. One child calls out to her nearby parent, “Hey, Dad, what’s your credit card number?”  “Credit card number?” asks the father, alarmed.
  • The second depicts young boys viewing a gaming site that requires registration. “Hey, Dad, what’s my Social Security Number?” says one child.  “Social Security Number?” asks the worried father.
  • The third spot features girls viewing a social-networking site where one has just posted a questionable picture. As one girl says “I am glad my mother doesn't have an account,” her mother walks in, sees the picture and states, “We have to talk.”

In all three spots, Ms. Hicks asks the question: “Do you know where your children are on the Internet?”

The PSAs then direct parents to CARU’s Website, www.caru.org, where there is a wide range of information available to parents on Internet safety at CARU’s “Parents’ Corner.”

The PSAs are currently running:

  • On WABC-TV, which serves the largest market in the country – New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  The PSAs have been broadcast during Good Morning America, Rachel Ray and Live with Regis and Kelly and will continue to air.  
     
    “"WABC-TV is committed to the safety of the children in our community and airing this psa allows us to reinforce the importance of children's safety on the internet,” said Saundra Thomas Vice-President of Community Affairs.
  • On Discovery Kids’ “family-prime” evening programming which includes the shows “Timeblazers,” “Mystery Hunters” and “The Saddle Club.” 
     
    “The folks at the Hub and Discovery Kids are delighted to help CARU get this critical message out to parents; know where your children are... in the real world and the virtual world of the Internet,” said Margaret Loesch, President and CEO, The Hub.

CARU is the self-regulatory forum for the children’s advertising industry. CARU’s self-regulatory program sets high standards for the industry to assure that advertising directed to children is not deceptive, unfair or inappropriate for its intended audience.

CARU’s standards are embodied in principles and guidelines first adopted by CARU in 1975 and periodically updated to address changes in the marketing and media landscape. In addition to monitoring ads in all media for compliance with its guidelines, CARU staff also review Websites directed to children to assure compliance with CARU’s guidelines and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

In the past three years, CARU has issued nearly 70 decisions on Website safety and online privacy; Internet-related cases account for one-third of CARU’s caseload. CARU’s decisions are available at www.narcpartners.org.