Lawmakers seek changes to how children use social media

One proposal looks to fight social media addiction by requiring content presented in a chronological feed.

A group of California lawmakers are looking to govern how social media platforms present content to minors, an effort they say will protect children from the harms of social media addiction. 

California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Sen. Nancy Skinner (D–Berkeley) and Asm. Buffy Wicks (D–Oakland) introduced two bills on Monday: the Protecting Youth from Social Media Addiction Act (Senate Bill 976) and the California Children’s Data Privacy Act (AB 1949). 


The big picture: SB 976 would give parents the ability to decide if their children should receive a chronological feed on social media from users they already follow, as opposed to an algorithmic feed. 

  • Lawmakers argue that algorithmic feeds are addictive and that heavy social media use can cause mental health harms to young users. 
  • Parents would also be given the choice to halt social media notifications and block access to platforms for minors during nighttime hours and during the school day under SB 976. 
  • AB 1949 would prohibit businesses from collecting, using, sharing or selling personal the personal data of minors, unless they have received informed consent or unless doing is necessary for the business. 

What they’re saying: Bonta said in a statement that social media companies are willing to harness addictive content to target vulnerable children. 

  • “As kids and young adults increasingly socialize, learn, and work online, we must create a safer online space for children to learn, explore, and play,” Bonta said. “This cannot wait. We need to act now to protect our children. It’s time to move fast and fix things. The two bills we are announcing today take an important step toward that goal by strengthening data privacy protections for minors and safeguarding youth against social media addiction.”
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