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Tech Industry

New campaign targets tech's 'real-time experiment on our kids'

Common Sense and the Center for Humane Technology launch an initiative to push for awareness of the effects of tech on children.

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Nonprofits are concerned about how tech affects kids. 

Getty

If you're worried about the effects of technology on kids, you're not alone.

The Center for Humane Technology, in partnership with nonprofit Common Sense, is launching a campaign called Truth About Tech to raise the alarm about how technologies like social media affect young minds.

Tech companies "created the attention economy and are now engaged in a full-blown arms race to capture and retain human attention, including the attention of kids," Center for Humane Technology co-founder and Executive Director Tristan Harris said in a statement Monday.

One of the campaign's goals is to get tech companies to make products that are "less intrusive and less addictive." Another is to educate consumers about the best ways to use media within their families. The campaign also aims to attract more tech industry professionals to the cause.

After all, the Center for Humane Technology, which has been around since 2014, is run by folks who contributed to the tech we use every day. Harris served as Google's design ethicist. Others in the group include Justin Rosenstein, who helped invent Facebook's Like button, and early Facebook adviser Roger McNamee.

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Truth About Tech comes at a time when people are questioning the long-term effects of technology use. In January, nonprofit advocacy groups Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood wrote a letter speaking out against Facebook's child-centric version of the Messenger app, Messenger Kids, saying "younger children are simply not ready to have social media accounts."

The campaign said social media's dangers to kids include conditions like stress, anxiety and depression.

In additional to money raised by the Center for Humane Technology, Common Sense is putting up $7 million in funding for the campaign. Common Sense also has media partnerships including DirectTV and Comcast for public service announcements. The donated media is valued at $50 million.

"Tech companies are conducting a massive, real-time experiment on our kids, and, at present, no one is really holding them accountable," said Common Sense CEO and founder James Steyer in a statement.

First published Feb. 5, 9:43 a.m. PT.
Update, 10:57 a.m. PT:
Adds funding information.

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