Two new bills are aimed at limiting social media for kids
New York’s top politician said social media is a powerful tool to influence kids and teenagers. It’s why Gov. Kathy Hochul said she wants to change the way a new generation scrolls through their screens.
Ask any teenager if they have TikTok, Instagram, or any other social media account. They’ll probably tell you, “Yes”.
A study done by the Pew Research Center in 2022 states that 97% of teens say they use the internet every day.
However, Hochul said the online world is known to cause damage and children need saving.
It’s why she’s helping introduce two new bills aimed at doing exactly that. She made the announcement at a news conference in October.
“I know that we want to protect our children’s identities and we care about them deeply.”
Hochul and some New York State lawmakers say the bills are aimed at protecting kids and teens from potential mental health risks, by stopping them from accessing algorithm-based social media feeds unless they have permission from parents.
During the news conference, Hochul sighted a report from the U.S. Surgeon General about what technology can do. It said, “digital technologies can expose children to bullying, contribute to obesity, eating disorders, trade-off with sleep, encourage children to negatively compare themselves to others, and lead to depression, anxiety, and self-harm…. several studies have linked time spent on social media to mental health challenges such as anxiety and depression.”
If you go on TikTok or Instagram, feeds are filled with anything and everything.
Posts from models, people posting their workout routines, or sharing their mental health struggles.
“Do you understand how an algorithm works? It follows you. It preys on you,” Hochul said.
13Investigates went out and asked people what they thought of the proposed bills.
Including Michael Novack, a grandpa to a 17-year-old.
“I don’t think that her access should be restricted. I think she’s very mature. Maybe she’s the exception. I don’t know,” Novack said. “I do think that parents are the ones, should be the ones, to be the filters and be a little stricter with their kids in that regard.”
And an expecting mother.
“I think it’s really important because social media in general is all so new. If adults don’t really know how it’s evolving, and the algorithm can be extremely dangerous. Imagine that being translated to kids. Advertising in general. They’re bypassing the parent and going straight to the children.”
As well as people who have social media.
“I’m not sure how laws are going to positively impact the situation. At the end of the day, parents need to take control of their own kids,” Bo Odom said. “Kids will always figure out how to do something you don’t want them to do. That’s what kids are about.”
If passed into law, Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act will require social media companies to restrict addictive features on their platforms that most harm young users. The legislation will instead make sure anyone under 18 has a default feed from people they already follow and allow parents to limit how long their kids are on social media.
The New York Child Data Protection Act will stop all online sites from collecting, using, sharing, or selling a minor’s personal information.
“Our children are in crisis and it’s up to us to save them.”
New York’s initiative is similar to those in Republican-led states, including Utah. The politicians in the Beehive state said they will start holding social media companies accountable next March.
An opinion piece in the Washington Post said the Utah legislature’s initiatives to protect children and teens are considered to be “first-in-the-nation actions” that should be “considered a playbook for other states.”
Arkansas also passed a bill mirroring what Utah did. It was passed and signed by Gov. Sarah Sanders, but a federal judge has since blocked Arkansas from enforcing the new law.