From Nicole, Accountable Tech <[email protected]>
Subject yup, social media IS harmful for kids
Date May 26, 2023 2:45 PM
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Hi there --

A new advisory from the U.S. Surgeon General confirms what we’ve long known:

Social media is harmful for kids.

As the advisory [[link removed]] reads, “We must acknowledge the growing body of research about potential harms, increase our collective understanding of the risks associated with social media use, and urgently take action to create safe and healthy digital environments that minimize harm and safeguard children’s and adolescents’ mental health and well-being.”

As a mother myself, I fear the day that my daughter will be old enough to start using social media. The harms are well documented: 64% of adolescents are “often” or “sometimes” exposed to hate-based content through social media, one-third of girls aged 11-15 say they feel “addicted” to certain social media platforms, and over half of teenagers report that it would be hard to give up social media. 1

That’s probably why tech executives themselves keep their kids off social media [[link removed]] , but the burden of protecting our kids shouldn’t fall solely to busy parents whose kids just want to connect with their friends online.

As Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy outlines in the report there are clear actions that tech companies, policymakers, researchers – and yes parents and kids, too – can take to make social media safer for developing minds.

The biggest responsibility rests with Big Tech companies – and the lawmakers tasked with oversight of their behavior – which must do more to unwind their addictive and manipulative design and default settings for kids online.

The Surgeon General lays out some recommendations for tech companies and policymakers:

Develop age-appropriate health and safety standards for technology platforms. Such standards may include designing technology that is appropriate and safe for a child’s developmental stage; protecting children and adolescents from accessing harmful content.

Ensure default settings for children are set to the highest safety and privacy standards. Provide easy-to-read and highly visible information about policies regarding use by children.

Design, develop, and evaluate platforms, products, and tools that foster safe and healthy online environments for youth… The platform design and algorithms should prioritize health and safety as the first principle, seek to maximize the potential benefits, and avoid design features that attempt to maximize time, attention, and engagement.

These recommendations align with the work we’ve been doing here at Accountable Tech to support Age Appropriate Design Code legislation that we passed in California and helped advance in other states across the country. Additionally, federal legislation like the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) offers a meaningful opportunity to require online platforms to ensure a higher level of privacy and safety for kids by prohibiting the promotion of harmful content like eating-disorder and self-harm content.

If you’re able to, chip in to help us continue this fight and secure legislation that reins in Big Tech’s harms to kids, teens, and young adults. [[link removed]]

The work ahead to make social media safer for kids isn’t easy, but as a mom, I am sure as heck not giving up. I’m grateful for you taking the time to read to the bottom of this email and look forward to keeping you posted on the progress to come.


[[link removed]]

Nicole Gill
Co-founder and Executive Director
Accountable Tech

1. U.S. Department of Human and Health Services: [link removed] [[link removed]]

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