New York officials are introducing two bills that would limit children’s access to “addictive” social media feeds and protect kids’ mental health online by changing the way they are served content.
On Wednesday, New York Governor Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, and state lawmakers announced a pair of bills that would restrict the way social media platforms can collect and share children’s information as well as allow parents to keep their kids from being bombarded by addictive feeds they don’t follow.
The first bill is the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation for Kids Act (SAFE Act) which requires social media companies to restrict “harmful” and addictive features on their platforms.
The bill would allow parents to opt their children out of getting feeds curated by an algorithm. Social media companies would be required to provide children with a chronological feed of content from users they already follow.
According to CBS News, the bill will also ban social media companies from sending notification to minors between 12:00 and 06:00 without parental consent, allows parents to block access to social media for minors between 12:00 and 06:00, and allows parents to limit the number of hours their children can spend on the platforms.
Meanwhile, the second bill would prohibit social media companies from collecting, using, or sharing personal data of children under the age of 18 — unless they receive informed consent or if it’s otherwise necessary. Companies could be fined $5,000 per violation of either law.
‘Our Children are in Crisis’
New York lawmakers said that social media is a major factor behind the worsening mental health crisis among children. New York Governor Hochul compared the risk of unwanted social media content to cigarettes and alcohol.
“Our children are in crisis and it’s up to us to save them,” Hochul says in an announcement
“The data around the negative effects of social media on these young minds is irrefutable, and knowing how dangerous the algorithms are, I will not accept that we are powerless to do anything about it.”
“This is a major issue that we all feel strongly about and that must be addressed,” New York Attorney General Letitia James James continues.
“Nationwide, children and teens are struggling with significantly high rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health issues, largely because of social media.”
It is not only New York lawmakers who are fighting social media platforms. On Tuesday, the state of Utah filed a lawsuit against TikTok allegedly harming the mental health of children and teens, following in the footsteps of states like Arkansas and Indiana.
The new lawsuit accuses TikTok of leveraging “highly powerful algorithms and manipulative design features” to entice young users to use the app.
Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.