Written by PTC | Published December 22, 2021
It has been a remarkable year. Thanks to the PTC’s unrelenting efforts, combined with your activism and involvement, our voice – your voice – is being heard loud and clear here in Hollywood, inside the Beltway, and across our nation. Together we’ve made great strides in creating a safer media environment for America’s children.
Early this year, we announced that we were changing our name. After 25 years as the Parents Television Council, we became The Parents Television and Media Council. This important expansion of our mission signifies that in today’s world, children are influenced by media from a multitude of sources and platforms – not just television. Wherever and whenever children are consuming their entertainment media, the PTC needs to be there to help parents and families navigate the landscape.
To reflect our expanded mission, we followed up that name-change announcement with the release of our second-ever Special Report on streaming media. Last Spring, we released Dollars and Sense: A Parents’ Guide to Streaming Media, a new Special Report looking at the real and hidden cost to families of some of the most popular streaming services currently available. Our research pointed out specific failings on the part of major streaming platforms when it comes to protecting children from harmful content.
We named names, calling out the companies that were failing America’s families. And look at what happened next!
Netflix made changes to their parental controls, addressing some of the very issues we raised. Parents can now restrict the titles displayed on the menu screen based on their age-rating. That means they no longer have to worry about R-rated or MA-rated programs for adults appearing next to PG-rated entertainment for children on the menu screen; or having to scroll past suggestive cover art or titles in order to see what’s available to watch with the whole family.
Hulu also made changes, specifically correcting a problem the PTC pointed out in our report: They added PIN-restrictions to prevent kids from flipping between child and adult profiles.
Then, the TVOMB – the entertainment industry organization appointed to oversee the administration of TV ratings – announced that it is instituting policy changes to standardize which ratings are used and how they are displayed on streaming media platforms.
This is something the PTC has been demanding for years.
The PTC has also been working tirelessly to stop the sexualization and exploitation of children in media. Our second major Special Report, The Big Problem with Big Mouth, exposed the exploitative and pornographic content on Netflix’s Big Mouth.
We sent copies of our Report to the FBI as evidence of potential child pornography and urged them to open an investigation. Copies of the report along with THOUSANDS of petition signatures were also delivered to the Department of Justice and the Attorney General of EVERY STATE IN THIS COUNTRY. We are continuing to communicate with State AG offices across America even as I write this.
We met with members of Congress and we met with the FCC, making sure our elected and appointed government officials were informed about the wave of dangerous material targeting our children, and providing them with tangible solutions they can help to implement. Congressional hearings were held in both the Senate and House to consider available remedies, and we expect bipartisan legislation in the coming year.
We have publicly called out the producers of sexually-exploitative material for harming children, and we’re holding the Hollywood corporate executives who distribute such material publicly to account.
Most importantly, the PTC invested heavily in its outreach to parents and grandparents. Most families understand that there is harmful content within reach of a child, but most don’t understand just how toxic the content can be, even when it comes from once-trusted companies like Netflix, AT&T and Walt Disney.
There’s so much more I could tell you about how we are making a difference for America’s children. But we know that this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more we need to do.
A year and a half of lockdowns have only confirmed what you and I know to be true: Media has a tremendous impact on children, both for good and for ill. We’ve been sounding the alarm about this for years, and the very things we warned would happen are now actually happening. Recent research has revealed that more children are engaging in explicit sexual activity online – even children as young as 9-12 years of age… and more children believe that doing so is appropriate for children their age.
Perhaps you saw the recent news reports of the US Surgeon General declaring a crisis in the mental and emotional health of our nation’s children, with shocking levels of depression, hopelessness, even suicide. Today’s entertainment media culture is fueling it.
While the circumstances seem dire, we are committed to turning the tide and rescuing children from the media-driven darkness that surrounds them. We are poised and ready to do even more in 2022 – and we will do just that, thanks to your continued activism and support.