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New York lawmakers propose new bills to mitigate the negative impact of social media on minors

  New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Atty. Gen. Letitia James, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic have jointly announce...

 New York Gov. Kathy Hochul, Atty. Gen. Letitia James, State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and State Assemblywoman Nily Rozic have jointly announced two legislative bills designed to mitigate the negative impact of social media platforms on children under the age of 18.

"Our kids are in crisis, and the adults in the room need to step up," stated Hochul, who stressed the urgency of addressing the increasing rates of teen suicide and the surge in anxiety and depression diagnoses among young people. "It's critical we all stand together to address the youth mental health crisis."  

James added that a report by the Surgeon General of the United States noted that "youth who spend more than three hours a day on social media are twice as likely to experience depression and anxiety."

The first bill, named the "Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act," would grant families greater control over the content that appears on their children's social media feeds. Under this legislation, families would need to opt in for the use of algorithms that track content, a feature often found to be addictive as it prioritizes content for prolonged user engagement.

In line with this bill, minors would be required parental consent to enable suggested feeds on social media apps. Additionally, parents could limit their children's access to social media and push notifications between midnight and 6 a.m. Social media companies would then receive "verifiable parental consent" to continue offering services during those hours.

Moreover, the bill mandates social media platforms to provide parents with tools to set daily usage limits for their children.

Violations of the proposed laws could result in up to $5,000 fines for each breach and parents of affected minors would be entitled to seek $5,000 in damages from the social media platforms for each incident. However, companies could rectify any claims brought by guardians.

New York proposing bill to protect children's data from Big Tech

The second bill, known as the "New York Child Data Protection Act," aims to prevent social media companies from collecting, sharing and selling personal data of minors without informed consent. For children under 13, such consent must come from a parent or guardian.

Social media companies found in violation of this proposed legislation could face civil penalties of up to $5,000 per breach and would be prohibited from using children's data and online activities to target them with personalized ads.

Justifying this proposal, State Sen. Andrew Gournades from Brooklyn pointed out that the founders and executives of Big Tech companies also aren't letting their children use social media.

"Just think about this for a minute," said Gournades. "The very founders of these social media companies don't allow their own kids to use these technologies."

Polling from the Pew Research Center also notes that more than half of Americans do not feel like they are in control of the information social media companies collect and often sell to advertisers. This could include the data of children.

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