NY Officials Introduce Bills to Protect Children on Social Media

         

Summary:
New York officials have announced two bills aimed at protecting children on social media. The “Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act” would limit harmful and addictive features of social media for children, while the New York Child Data Protection Act would protect children’s data online. The bills would give users and parents the ability to opt out of algorithm-driven content and set limits on usage. Similar bills have been passed in other states, and lawsuits against social media platforms have accused them of harming users’ mental health.

Two new bills aimed at protecting children on social media will be introduced in the New York state legislature, according to New York Governor Kathy Hochul and New York Attorney General Letitia James. The “Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act” would limit harmful and addictive features of social media for children. It would allow users under 18 and their parents to opt out of receiving feeds driven by algorithms designed to keep them on the platforms for as long as possible. The bill would also allow users and parents who opt in to receiving algorithmically generated content feeds to block access to social media platforms during certain hours or limit the total time spent on a platform per day.

The second bill, the New York Child Data Protection Act, aims to protect children’s data online. It would prohibit online sites from collecting, using, sharing, or selling the personal data of anyone under 18 for advertising purposes without informed consent. For users under 13, this informed consent must come from a parent or guardian.

These bills come in response to the negative effects of social media on children’s mental health. Nationwide, children and teens are struggling with high rates of depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, largely due to social media. The bills specifically target platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and YouTube, where feeds are comprised of user-generated content and algorithmically suggested material based on personal data.

Similar bills have been passed in other states, including Arkansas, Louisiana, and Utah. These bills impose tough new rules on platforms, such as requiring parental consent for teen accounts. Federal lawmakers have also introduced a bill that would ban kids under 13 from using social media altogether. Additionally, lawsuits against social media platforms have accused them of harming users’ mental health.

The New York legislation is seen as necessary due to a lack of action by the federal government to protect children on social media. The last bill passed to protect children in social media was in 1998. New York officials also highlighted the risks of children’s privacy online, including the potential for personal data to be exploited by human traffickers and predators.

The bills would authorize the attorney general to take legal action and seek damages or civil penalties for violations. Parents or guardians of minors would also have the ability to sue for damages. The US Department of Health and Human Services has recognized the risks of social media to youth mental health, with studies showing that spending more than three hours a day on social media doubles the risk of mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

Tag: New York, social media, children’s mental health, legislation, data protection

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