To safeguard children from the perils of social media addiction and protect their private data, California is considering the introduction of two bills.
The Protecting Youth from Social Media Addiction Act (SB 976) and the California Children’s Data Privacy Act (AB 1949) were recently introduced by the state’s Attorney General Rob Bonta, State Senator Nancy Skinner, and Assemblymember Buffy Wicks.
These proposed legislations come in the wake of a child safety bill that was put on hold but was set to take effect this year. The SB 976 bill aims to empower parents by granting them the authority to remove addictive algorithmic feeds from their children’s social media channels.
If passed, parents of children under the age of 18 would have the option to choose between the default algorithmic feed, which is typically designed to create addictive behavior and a less habit-forming chronological feed.
Additionally, parents would be able to block social media notifications and restrict their children’s access to social platforms during nighttime and school hours. Senator Nancy Skinner emphasizes the need for this bill, stating that social media companies have intentionally designed their platforms to addict users, particularly young individuals.
Numerous studies have shown that social media addiction leads to higher rates of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem among young people. SB 976 aims to establish sensible regulations to protect children from these preventable harms.
On the other hand, AB 1949 focuses on strengthening data privacy for children under 18 in California. The bill grants consumers the right to be informed about the personal information collected and sold by social media companies, allowing them to prevent the sale of their children’s data to third parties.
Exceptions to this rule would require informed consent, which, in the case of children under 13, must come from a parent or guardian. AB 1949 also addresses the loopholes in the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) that currently fail to effectively protect the data of 17-year-olds.
While the CCPA provides robust protections for individuals under 16, this bill seeks to extend those protections to older minors as well. Assemblymember Buffy Wicks highlights the significance of this bill in closing the gaps in privacy laws that have allowed tech giants to exploit and monetize children’s sensitive data without consequences.
The timing of these bills may coincide with a US Senate hearing, scheduled for Wednesday, which will address children’s online safety and feature the testimony of five Big Tech CEOs.
California is also part of a 41-state coalition that filed a lawsuit against Meta (formerly Facebook) in October, alleging harm to children’s mental health. Internal documents from Meta revealed that the company viewed “tweens” as a valuable but untapped audience, as reported by The Wall Street Journal in 2021.
The proposed legislation in California reflects a growing concern about the impact of social media on children and their privacy. By empowering parents to make informed decisions about their children’s social media usage and strengthening data privacy laws, these bills aim to create a safer online environment for young individuals.
If passed, they could serve as a model for other states grappling with similar issues and encourage further discussions on the responsible use of technology and the protection of children’s well-being.
Catch up with the latest news from SurgeZirc on WhatsApp by following our channel. Click here to join.