WASHINGTON, DC – Today, The Tech Oversight Project praised the Senate Commerce Committee for passing S.1409, the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), and S.1418, the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA 2.0). These bills will help provide kids and parents with the tools and safeguards to protect against threats to health and well-being, install safety-by-default design features for minors, and require independent audits from experts and academic researchers to ensure that the platforms are taking steps to address risks to kids.
Just days ago, President Joe Biden issued a call to Congress to pass these bills, and U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy has warned that social media platforms pose a “profound risk of harm” to youth.
“Members of the Senate Commerce Committee made it crystal clear that they understand we are in the midst of a youth mental health crisis caused by Big Tech and that the time to act is now. Social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and Snapchat continuously serve children content that promotes suicide, body image issues, eating disorders, radicalization, and misogyny. Parents, teachers, and health professionals have called for reasonable safety and privacy-by-design features, and at every step of the way, Big Tech has mobilized its multi-million-dollar lobbying and astroturf efforts to wage a literal war on kids. We cannot let them continue to harm our youth and profit off of their misery and depression,” said Kyle Morse, Deputy Executive Director of the Tech Oversight Project. “We applaud the committee passage of KOSA and COPPA 2.0 and look forward to working with the Senate and Biden Administration to get these bills over the finish line and signed into law.”
Online safety protections for children continue to be broadly popular with the American electorate, including KOSA. Below is a round-up of recent polling showing wide support for KOSA and similar legislation. A full round-up can be found here.
HARRIS CHILDREN’S MENTAL HEALTH POLL, MAY 2023 – LINK
- 50% of parents of children under the age of 18 “feel their child(ren)’s mental health has suffered during the past 12 months because of social media use”
- Only 35% of respondents indicated that their children’s social media use has positively impacted their mental, a lower result than what the survey found in 2022 (43%)
ISSUE ONE POLL, APRIL 2023 – LINK
- 78% of respondents said they hold social media platforms responsible for a range of childhood issues (including bullying as well as mental health issues like body image problems, eating disorders, depression, and anxiety), as well as threats to our democracy.
- 71% of respondents see social media’s impact on children as more negative than positive.
- 82% of respondents said they feel that more needs to be done to increase transparency, ensure online privacy, and protect children.
- 68% of respondents said that would support legislation to require social media platforms to make their products and algorithms available for independent review, including 72% of Republicans, 64% of Democrats, and 73% of nonpartisan independents
- 58% of respondents said they would be more likely to support their elected officials’ re-election if they supported laws to increase requirements on the way that social media platforms collect and use data, including 62% of Republicans, 57% of Democrats, and 61% of nonpartisan independents
- 66% of respondents said they would be more likely to support their elected officials’ re-election if they supported a law placing greater requirements on how technology companies allow children to use their online platforms, including 71% of Republicans, 64% of Democrats, and 65% of nonpartisan independents
ACCOUNTABLE TECH / LOG OFF POLL OF AMERICAN TEENAGERS, MARCH 2023 – LINK
The survey, conducted by YouGov, polled 912 American teenagers. The poll found the following:
- 74% of teenagers polled found themselves scrolling for too long.
- 66% of teenagers polled said that they feel like they’re losing track of time as a result of social media.
- Accountable Tech notes that the poll found that “with Black and Hispanic teenagers [are] being disproportionately affected”
- 53% of those surveyed bought products “they didn’t really want due to targeted ads.”
- When asked about how often they have “[gotten] ads for things you just talked about”, 52% said “almost all the time or often” and 34% said “sometimes”
- A 46% plurality said they lose sleep daily due to feeling ‘stuck’ on social media platforms, with 27% saying this occurs weekly or monthly
- A 43% plurality said they don’t do as much homework as they wanted due to feeling ‘stuck’ on social media platforms every day, with 29% indicating this occurs weekly or monthly
- 59% of teenagers indicated they were pulled back into apps after logging off through daily push notifications every day.
- Only 8% of respondents said they had not been recommended to follow a stranger on social media; Only 12% said they had not been recommended to be followed by a stranger.
KNIGHT FOUNDATION SOCIAL MEDIA / CHILDREN POLL, FEBRUARY 2023 – LINK
- 53% of respondents said that the federal government is most responsible for preventing tech companies from
- collecting personal data (as opposed to social media companies, their users, or state governments)
- 86% of respondents expressed concern about the impact of social media on the mental health of child users’, with a 55% majority saying they very concerned (55%).
- 82% of respondents expressed concern about algorithms serving inappropriate online content to children
- 80% of respondents expressed concern about algorithms serving online advertisements that target children
- 51% of respondents agree that parents are the most responsible for keeping social media platforms from negatively impacting the mental health of children online
- The Knight Foundation found that “a plurality believe social media companies should be responsible for preventing algorithms serving inappropriate online content to children (42) and for online advertisements that target children (36%)”
CENTER FOR GROWTH AND OPPORTUNITY, FEBRUARY 2023 POLL – LINK
- 58% of age 18-29 respondents, 71% of age 30-44 respondents, 84% of age 45-64 respondents, and 86% of age 61+ respondents agreed that social media companies should ensure children are not negatively impacted
- As noted in the poll’s release: “As respondents get older they are much more likely to think social media companies have an obligation to ensure that the health and safety of children is not negatively impacted by the use of their platforms.”
MORNING CONSULT POLL, JANUARY 2023 – LINK
- When asked about the consequences of reining in the size of Big Tech companies, 34% of respondents said the safety of children online would improve, while only 18% said that the safety of children online would worsen.