- NY seeks to require parental consent for children to use algorithmically managed social media platforms.
- The new bills would also ban overnight social media notifications and allow parents to limit the amount of time teens spend on social media each day.
New York officials are pushing to ban internet companies from mining personal data and using addictive features on social media in ways that harm the health and mental development of young people.
Gov. Kathy Hochul said that ban was included in a new law that tightly limits how children under 18 access and use the Internet.
There are serious mental health effects associated with excessive social media use, she added, increasing rates of depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and self-harm in children. me.
Our children are in crisis and the adults in the room need to step up,” Hochul said.
A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the risk is greatest for teenage girls, who are experiencing record levels of violence, sadness and suicide risk. , with nearly three-fifths feeling persistent sadness or hopelessness in 2021.
This represents an increase of nearly 60% and is the highest reported in the past decade for teenage girls. And all teens reported some level of increase, including experiences of violence and suicidal thoughts and behaviors, the CDC found.
How will New York stop addictive social media feeds?
According to the governor’s office, the first bill, called the Stop Children’s Addictive Feed Exploitation Act, would require social media companies to limit key addictive features on their platforms. their platform.
Currently, platforms supplement the content users see from accounts they follow by serving them content from accounts they don’t follow or subscribe to.
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This content is curated using an algorithm that collects and displays content based on a variety of factors. However, algorithmic feeds have proven to be addictive because they prioritize content that helps users stay on the platform longer, the governor’s office noted.
Among the invoice details:
- Provide users under 18 with a default chronological feed from users they already follow. Users can also search for specific topics that interest them. Minors can opt-in to receiving addictive feeds with parental consent.
- Allows parents to block access to social media platforms for minors between midnight and 6 a.m. and limit the total number of hours per day that minors spend on the platforms this rock.
- Prohibit social media platforms from sending notifications to minors between midnight and 6 a.m. without parental consent.
Some penalties include claims for damages or civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. The bill would also authorize any parent/guardian of a covered minor to sue for damages of up to $5,000 per user per incident or actual damages, whichever Which level is greater?
How will NY ban online data collection from young people?
The other bill, known as the New York Children’s Data Protection Act, would prohibit all online sites from collecting, using, sharing or selling personal data of anyone under 18 years of age, except where they have received express consent or unless doing so is absolutely necessary for the purposes of the website.
For users under 13 years of age, such informed consent must come from a parent. The bill authorizes the Office of the Attorney General to enforce the law and may issue injunctions, damages, or civil penalties of up to $5,000 for each violation.
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California last year became the first state to pass a law protecting children’s privacy online. Across the country, Congress is debating multiple bills aimed at regulating technology companies to limit their negative impact on youth mental health.
In addition to internet problems, long waits to access inpatient pediatric mental health programs have contributed to the youth mental health crisis in New York. An ongoing state effort to add hundreds of psychiatric beds aims to reduce those waits, but some advocates and providers insist more needs to be done.
The USA TODAY Network contributed to this report
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