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California bill would ban 'addictive' social media content for kids

A default daily time limit and restrictions on what hours the apps could send notifications to minors would also be mandated by the landmark bill.
California bill would ban 'addictive' social media content for kids
Posted at 12:42 PM, Jan 31, 2024

A first-of-its-kind bill in California would prohibit social media websites and apps from sending children “addictive” material without the consent of a parent or guardian.

Senate Bill 976, introduced this week by state Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would also outlaw social media platforms from sending notifications to users under 18 during overnight hours and the school day without consent from a parent or guardian.

A default time limit of one hour daily and having the settings on all accounts of minors defaulted to private would also be mandated by the bill.  

“Social media companies have designed their platforms to addict users, especially our kids. Countless studies show that once a young person has a social media addiction, they experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem,” said Skinner in a press release.

The legislation, if passed, would be a landmark law in the nation. Skinner’s office said New York is the only other state to propose a similar bill. 

Last week, the Florida House of Representatives passed a bill that would ban children under the age of 16 from using popular social media platforms regardless of parental approval. 

SEE MORE: Parents lobby Congress for new social media rules

Lawmakers, teachers and health experts have long rallied across the aisle for more regulation of social media for youth across the country. U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said too much time on the internet has negative impacts on kids' and teens' mental health, including depression and anxiety, and called for tech companies and lawmakers to take "immediate action" to protect their health last year. 

A few months later the American Federation of Teachers issued a report blasting social media's effects on students, saying it is the "root cause" of a mental health crisis among children. 

Dozens of U.S. states, including California, filed a lawsuit in October 2023 against Facebook and Instagram's parent company Meta, claiming it designed the platforms to specifically addict young users and was contributing to the youth mental health crisis. 

Five social media tech CEOs, including Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, faced questions from lawmakers about “their failure to protect children online” during a bipartisan U.S. Senate hearing on Wednesday.

SEE MORE: School removes mirrors from bathrooms to keep kids off social media

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