James Pearson Steyer
1956 (age 64–65)
|Occupation||Children's advocate, civil rights attorney, professor and author|
|Spouse(s)||Elizabeth Butler Steyer|
|Family||Tom Steyer (brother)|
James Pearson Steyer (born 1956) is an American children's advocate, civil rights attorney, professor and author. He founded Common Sense Media, a lobbying and advocacy organization that provides age-based ratings and reviews of various forms of media aimed at parents.
Early life and education
Steyer was born in New York City in 1956. His mother, Marnie (née Fahr), was a remedial reading teacher at the Brooklyn House of Detention, and his father, Roy Henry Steyer, was a partner in the New York law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell. His father was Jewish and his mother Episcopalian. He has two brothers: Hume Steyer and Tom Steyer. Steyer was highly influenced by his mother, who would sometimes bring him to class as her teaching assistant. In an article in the Los Angeles Times, Steyer’s college friend, Mike Tollin, said "[Jim’s] whole focus on kids comes from his close relationship with his mother…She was the kind of woman who would sit you down, ask you how things were, and you felt like you needed to tell her the truth."
Steyer graduated early from Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire and worked with his mother teaching remedial reading at a public school in Harlem. Steyer later graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University where he was awarded the Lindsey Peters Award for Outstanding Work in American Government. After two years of community development work in Asia, he attended Stanford Law School and graduated in 1983. During law school, Steyer was part of a group that founded the East Palo Alto Community Law Project, a non-profit legal services center for low-income families in East Palo Alto, California. After Stanford, he became a law clerk for Justice Allen Broussard of the California Supreme Court. He then served as a civil rights attorney for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. There, he helped spearhead the Poverty and Justice Program, focused on developing national legal and legislative strategies on behalf of disadvantaged African Americans.
Steyer has been teaching courses as a professor at Stanford University in political science, education, civil rights and civil liberties for 28 years. He also authored two books: The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media’s Effect on our Children, which focuses on the effects certain media and government regulators have on children, and Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age. His former students include New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, former National Security Adviser Susan Rice, and Chelsea Clinton, who he raved was such a “star student” that he hired her as a teaching assistant and research aide.
Steyer founded his first child advocacy venture, Children Now, in 1988. Children Now was one of the main lobbying groups that fought for the three-hour-a-week educational children's programming quota which eventually became law. The group also became well known for publishing a “report card” on California’s children. This report card helped to shed light on important statistics. One of the red flags the report card raised was that one-fifth of California children lacked health insurance and only half were immunized.
Shortly after starting Children Now, Steyer noticed a serious need for high-quality educational TV programs for kids. In response he started JP Kids in 1996, a for-profit company that produced such shows as The Famous Jett Jackson, which aired on the Disney Channel. Steyer served as the company’s Chairman and CEO. Under Steyer’s guidance, the company used various platforms to broadcast more educational and entertaining content. JP Kids also provided an online outlet for teens to share opinions, explore alternative points of views and discuss political and environmental topics.
Steyer was awarded Stanford's highest teaching honor, the Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching, which is awarded annually to three Stanford professors, in 2010. Stanford students also voted for him to be Class Day speaker during Stanford’s graduation exercises. In 2011, the New York Times reported that Steyer was helping build the Center for the Next Generation, a nonprofit that aims to influence public policy debates focused on national children’s and energy issues.
When Google announced in January 2012 that it would be compiling data about users from across its many sites, Steyer was quoted as saying that "Even if the company believes that tracking users across all platforms improves their services, consumers should still have the option to opt out — especially the kids and teens who are avid users of YouTube, Gmail and Google Search. In 2012, the Department of Education and the F.C.C. recruited Steyer as the chairman of the Leading Education by Advancing Digital (LEAD) Commission, which enhances digital devices and curriculums in schools. Steyer is also a partner with Hillary Clinton on the Too Small to Fail initiative.
In June 2016, Steyer was included on Tech & Learning's 2016 List of the Most Influential People in Edtech. That same year, Steyer launched the Common Sense Kids campaign through Common Sense Media creating "a mass army for kids" by focusing on children's issues in the political field.
Common Sense Media
Steyer’s nonprofit organization, Common Sense Media, founded in 2003 with Liz Perle, focuses on the effects that media and technology have on young users. Steyer describes the group as “nutritional labeling of media." The leading national media advocacy group is financed by donations from foundations and individuals and fees from media partners. Common Sense Media distributes its content to more than 90 million US homes via partnerships with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, DIRECTV, NBC Universal, Netflix, Best Buy, Google, Yahoo!, AOL, Huffington Post, Fandango, Trend Micro, Verizon Foundation, Nickelodeon, and more.
Steyer’s advocacy has reached tens of millions of parents a month in articles, reviews and advice columns. Common Sense Media helps parents and their children to identify content that could be harmful to a younger audience. There are more than 1,000,000 members participating in the discussions and community, and their education programs for students and parents are in use in more than 75,000 schools across the U.S. Common Sense Media played a major role in the passage of the 2005 California law restricting the sale of violent video games, but was struck down by the Supreme Court.
In March 2012 the feature length documentary Bully was released into AMC Theatres with a "Pause 13+" rating designated by Common Sense Media. The film had previously been rated R by the MPAA. Under the new rating, AMC theaters allowed entrance to viewers under 17 provided they had a signed permission slip.
In 2014, Steyer supported California's "Eraser Bill," which lets California children under age 18 remove their postings from social media websites. The same year, Steyer called the passing of California Senate Bill 1177 "a big win for kids". The bill prohibits the sale and disclosure of schools' online student data. The bill also forbids targeted ads based on school information and the creation of student profiles when not used for education purposes.
Steyer has also called for updates to the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), calling the time of the act's creation "the stone age of digital media" and pointing out the lack of platforms such as Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter at the time.
In 2018 Steyer wrote in favor of sweeping privacy legislation, similar to the European Union's GDPR (2018), writing in the San Francisco Chronicle: "California families also deserve the right to informed consent when it comes to their personal information."
Common Sense and Steyer sponsored the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 which guarantees new data privacy rights for the state's consumers, with extra protections for kids under 16. The legislation, AB 375, takes effect in 2020.
Also in 2018 Steyer joined with former Google employee Tristan Harris and Facebook investor Roger McNamee on the "Truth About Tech" campaign.
In 2018, Steyer was included in an article by The Wall Street Journal called "The New Tech Avengers", "an unlikely triumvirate of Silicon Valley insiders [...] holding the tech industry accountable on privacy and addiction."
Steyer is the author of The Other Parent: The Inside Story of the Media’s Effect on Our Children. According to Stanford Magazine, the book "paints a frightening picture of greedy media companies, indifferent government regulators and parents too overwhelmed to pay attention." He has served on numerous non-profit boards including Children Now, the National Parenting Association and the San Francisco Free Clinic.
In 2012, Steyer released Talking Back to Facebook, a book that deals with the presence of digital media in the lives of children. The book, with a foreword written by Chelsea Clinton, advocates for larger parental involvement in children's technological activities. Talking Back to Facebook outlines strategies for safeguarding against a potentially dangerous digital world. During a May 2012 segment of NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross, Steyer noted that, "In a world where everything's photographed, where kids are constantly snapping photos on their cellphones and where youthful indiscretion is exactly the same as it's always been, the consequences can be much greater".
Steyer lives in the Bay Area with his wife, Elizabeth (née Butler), and their four children: Lily, Kirk, Carly, and Jesse. His wife was Acting Executive Director for Legal Services for Children in San Francisco, the first not-for-profit law firm in the United States dedicated to providing "comprehensive direct legal advocacy for children" utilizing attorneys and social workers in a combined effort. She now serves as Acting Executive Director of the Athletic Scholars Advancement Program, an independent, nonprofit organization that works to cultivate a college-bound culture by providing access to summer school programs, one-on-one mentoring, individualized academic guidance and college counseling services at public high schools in San Francisco. Since 2002, Steyer has donated over $5,300 to Democratic candidates, including $2,300 to Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.
- New York Times: "Breakfast Can Wait. The Day’s First Stop Is Online" By BRAD STONE August 9, 2009
- Ten Mile Lake Organization: "Obituaries 2002 - Marnie Fahr Steyer" 2002
- "Tom Steyer's Older, Poorer Brother". Washington Free Beacon. Retrieved 17 April 2020.
- "James P. Steyer". Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- New York Times: "Kathryn Taylor Weds T.F. Steyer" August 17, 1986
- World Who's who in Commerce and Industry. Marquis-Who's Who. 1968. ISSN 0190-2806. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- New York Times: "Paid Notice: Deaths STEYER, ROY H." June 26, 1997
- New York Times: "Paid Notice: Deaths STEYER, MARNIE FAHR - New York Times" May 22, 2002
- "Video game industry's public enemy number 1". Los Angeles Times. November 2, 2011.
- "A parent's guide to the media". Los Angeles Times. May 11, 2008.
- Strom, Stephanie (2011-09-15). "Hedge Fund Chief Takes Major Role in Philanthropy". New York Times. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- "Our Town: Saving Kids From Media". Palo Alto Weekly. June 1, 2005.
- "Experts alert children, parents to 'sexting' danger". LJWorld.com. 2009-04-28.
- "Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity". Stanford University. 2011-09-15. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- Natasha Singer (April 26, 2015). "Turning a Children's Rating System Into an Advocacy Army". The New York Times.
- Hamilton, Joan. "Spoiling our Kids". Stanford Magazine. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- "The Steyer brothers: 'We're fearless'". POLITICO. Retrieved 2018-08-06.
- "Steyer bows newkid vid co". Variety. December 1, 1996.
- "JP Kids". Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
- Huwa, Kyle (2010-05-21). "Obama Presidency Course Features Prominent Speakers". Stanford Review. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
- Kang, Cecilia (January 24, 2012). "Google announces privacy changes across products; users can't opt out". The Washington post. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- "Panel backs introduction of digital learning in US". Yahoo! News. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
- "Hillary Clinton, Next Generation Join Together on Too Small to Fail Initiative". The Next Generation. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
- Holly Aguirre (July 21, 2016). "Tech & Learning's 2016 List of the Most Influential People in Edtech". Tech & Learning.
- Joe Garofoli (March 22, 2016). "An army for kids: SF nonprofit vows to boost their clout". San Francisco Chronicle.
- Daniel E. Slotnik (August 21, 2015). "Liz Perle, Writer and Former Publishing Executive, Dies at 59". The New York Times. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
- "Media guide offers reviews for parents -- but no soapbox". San Francisco Chronicle. December 8, 2006.
- "Meet The Guy Who Decides What Your Children Should Be Watching, Downloading, And Playing". Business Insider. 2011-04-28.
- Vary, Adam, B. (March 27, 2012). "Bully to screen for minors with permission at AMC Theatres, lands 'Pause 13+' rating from Common Sense Media". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 7, 2012.
- Miles, Kathleen (2013-09-24). "New Law Gives Teens An Online 'Eraser Button'". HuffPost. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
- "California Legislature Passes Bill to Protect K-12 Students' Online Data". www.govtech.com. 2 September 2014. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
- Noguchi, Sharon (31 August 2014). "California Legislature passes stiffest U.S. bill to protect K-12 students' online data". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 24 April 2015.
- Carla Marinucci (March 3, 2016). "Child-advocacy group launches rating system for legislation". Politico.
- Albanesius, Chloe (December 16, 2010). "Commerce Dept. Unveils Online Privacy Plan". PC Magazine. Retrieved December 25, 2010.
- "Keeping Your Kids Safe Online: It's 'Common Sense'". NPR.org. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
- "Europeans win data privacy rights - what about us?". SFChronicle.com. 2018-05-30. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
- Kelly, Heather (2018-06-28). "California passes strictest online privacy law in the country". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
- Bowles, Nellie (2018-02-04). "Early Facebook and Google Employees Form Coalition to Fight What They Built". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
- Morris, Betsy (2018-06-30). "The New Tech Avengers". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved 2020-02-06.
- "The Citizens". 16 September 2020.
- "Center for Talent Innovation - Research & Insights" (PDF). Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- 2008 TAX RETURN Archived 2012-04-25 at the Wayback Machine. November 7, 2009.
- Musgrove, Mike (May 11, 2012). "'Net Smart: How to Thrive Online' by Howard Rheingold and 'Talking Back to Facebook: The Common Sense Guide to Raising Kids in the Digital Age' by James P. Steyer". The Washington Post. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- Dolan, Kerry (May 17, 2012). "Here's A Completely Different Reason To Be Skeptical About Facebook". Forbes. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- Gross, Terry (May 30, 2012). "Keeping Your Kids Safe Online: It's 'Common Sense'". Fresh Air. NPR.org. Retrieved September 9, 2012.
- Legal Services for Children Bulletin Archived 2013-10-22 at the Wayback Machine retrieved October 21, 2013.
- Athletic Scholars Advancement Program website:"Liz Steyer, Board Member" Archived 2013-12-30 at the Wayback Machine retrieved December 28, 2024.