New York considers parental control over teen social media feeds

New York considers parental control over teen social media feeds

New York is diving headfirst into the debate about social media and teens, with a bill nearing a vote that would restrict how platforms deliver content to young users. 

No social media algorithms for minors without parental approval

According to the Wall Street Journal, lawmakers have reached a tentative agreement on a bill, the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act, that would require parental consent for social media algorithms for teens. Teenagers wouldn’t see the curated content feed that social media platforms use to keep users engaged. Parents would have to give the go-ahead for these feeds. Also, teens wouldn’t be bombarded with social media notifications during designated quiet hours, presumably to promote better sleep and reduce late-night scrolling. The bill is still being completed and is expected to be voted this week, said the newspaper. 

Protecting teens from harmful content

Supporters of the bill, including Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul, believe algorithmic feeds can expose teens to violence, inappropriate content, and addictive loops. According to Hochul, heavy usage by teens has contributed to higher instances of mental illness. The bill empowers parents to be more involved in their children’s social media experience. They can decide if social media feeds are appropriate and set boundaries on nighttime notifications.

Free speech concerns 

The social media industry argues the restrictions might be unconstitutional, potentially limiting free speech and access to information. They believe focusing on media literacy education would be more effective. They have won court injunctions blocking regulations in other states from taking effect.  

New York as a frontrunner

If passed, New York would be the first state to regulate content delivery this way. However, California is considering similar restrictions, and Florida recently banned social media accounts for anyone under 14, regardless of parental consent. The report explained lawmakers in New York and California are hoping their approach will pass because it regulates how feeds are assembled and doesn’t restrict any particular kind of content. 


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