Parents Share Digital Goofs in Facebook Contest

Common Sense Media, a public service group that helps parents control children’s use of Facebook and mobile phones, wants to make more Moms and Dads aware of its advice and reviews.

The heart of its new outreach campaign?  That’s right – Facebook.

The San Francisco-based non-profit examines a broad range of online and offline media and marketing aimed at kids.  Social media has moved to the forefront as the younger set is getting hooked on Facebook at an earlier age, says Amy Guggenheim Shenkan, Common Sense president and COO.

The group’s new branding effort began with TV ads that broke in mid-April, which tie to a Facebook crowdsourcing contest that launches today. The campaign was crafted with boutique marketing shop Camp + King, and is aimed at parents struggling with decisions around their kids’ media and tech habits. Its themeline, “We’ve all been there, that’s why we’re here,” was inspired by awkward real-life moments when parents feel ambushed or intimidated by media-related situations.

The TV ads humorously portray such moments and along with upcoming banner, radio and magazine ads, they refer people to the organization’s Web site. The site asks people to go to the group’s Facebook page and submit their own awkward digital media parenting moments, “that one time when you realized that maybe media had become ‘the other parent,’ if only for a moment.”  The best stories will win $200-$500 Amazon gift cards.

“Our idea is to present relatable stories on TV to improve awareness and prompt people to contribute their own stories online. The language in the ads tells them that we are all in this together and we can tap the wisdom of all of us. We expect that the stories submitted on Facebook will outshine the handful of example in our ads,” Shenkan says.

In one TV spot, for instance, a mother watches her daughter texting at the kitchen counter for several seconds, then calmly states, “I just wanna smash that thing.”

The problem facing parents is “how to raise our kids in a world where they can curate and produce their own media and where online ads are targeted directly to them personally. In many ways we are conducting a big [media] experiment on our children in real time,” says Shenkan, a Harvard MBA. 

According to the Pew Research Center, almost all 12-17-year-olds are online and 80 percent of them use social media sites, often daily.

Common Sense wants to help parents and young people become media critics, “who understand how digital media and marketing work, and who look for positive role models,” Shenkan says. Parental distrust and avoidance of social and mobile media will only hamper the potential learning capabilities of games, apps and other digital tech, she adds.

Currently AOL, Hulu, Yahoo, Netflix, Google and other major content providers license the Common Sense media ratings and reviews, but research reveals that only about 10 percent of parents are familiar with the organization and its work.

Before Shenkan joined Common Sense last year, she was a consultant at McKinsey and Company, where she led the firm’s global digital marketing and sales practice.  

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