FCC Ponders Tech Fair On Kids & Content Control: Sources
Event Would Let Parents Examine Current Technologies
John Eggerton - 8/31/2009 4:22:19 PM EDT

The Federal Communications Commission is looking to organize a tech expo event for September to help parents and kids navigate the state of the art in content-management technologies, and to help parents understand better where there kids are going online.

That is according to sources familiar with the plans and comes as the FCC begins to think broadly about how the digital world is changing children's media consumption habits and their parents' ability to understand and/or control that diet.

The effort was variously described as a tech fair to give the parents a chance to kick the tires on available technologies, and a back-to-school event that will allow parents to learn more about the social media their kids are increasingly connecting with.

"The commission is hosting it and the goal is to be able to talk with parents and students about the ways teens are using various networks," said one source. "The goal is to have a a number of companies who are invoilved in providing either the networks or applications to have booths there and allow parents the opportunity to talk to these folks about various communications tools that their kids may be using that their parents may not understand or understand fully." The source noted that the Media Bureau is said to be helping organize the event.

Another source described it as a tech fair, at the FCC or possibly on the Hill, to showcase "parental empowerment tools."

That news comes as the FCC released its report to Congress on existing content management technologies. The report is essentially a survey of existing and proposed technologies, like the ratings/V-chip system, content filters like TVGuradian, and media reviews from groups like Common Sense Media, or proposed systems like digital watermarking..

The report also tees up issues like a unified ratings system across various media and rating advertisements, but does not prescribe any action. Instead, it calls for more data and input as the FCC conducts a more general review of children's TV regs.