After Maryland, Seattle, and Texas, New York is now taking a step against social media and its negative impacts of social media on children. Alarmed by rising cases of anxiety, depression, and self-harm among the youngest, state officials are zeroing in on popular platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and X (FKA Twitter).
Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, and state legislators are pointing fingers at the manipulative algorithms all these social media platforms rely on. “Our children are in crisis and it’s up to us to save them,” Hochul said. “A report by the surgeon general shows that youth who spend more than three hours a day on social media are twice as likely to experience depression and anxiety,” added James.
To curb the social media’s negative impact, lawmakers are introducing two bills. One is the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation for Kids Act, or SAFE Act. It requires the platforms to restrict addictive features for younger users. It also aims to give parents more control. It blocks all social media notifications to minors between midnight and 6 a.m. unless they have parental consent. It wants to encourage parents to block social media access during these hours and set limits on overall usage time. It’s in a way similar to bills proposed in Texas and Utah, only less restrictive.
The second proposal stands to protect minors’ privacy. It bans social media from collecting, using, or sharing personal data of children under the age of 18. “The very founders of these social media companies don’t allow their own kids to use these technologies,” Brooklyn state Sen. Andrew Gournades noted.
CBS News adds another concern considering the current situation in Israel. “Jewish parents are being told to remove social media apps completely from their phones because there is no way to actually prevent what their children will see,” said Queens Assemblywoman Nily Rozik. Honestly, I think we would all be mentally healthier and more resilient if we deleted social media completely, but alas.
New York’s fight against the dark side is just a piece of the puzzle. The new rules remind us all – big tech, parents, everyone – that we need to watch out for kids in the digital world. While quitting social media isn’t the easy answer for everyone, making it safer for kids is a step we can all agree on. And as I always like to add – kids learn by observing, so perhaps stop mindlessly scrolling social media yourself, and teach them how to use them responsibly. Education and good examples are the best things we can give them.
[via CBS News]