Urge your legislator to protect kids online!

Urge your legislator to protect kids online!

H.F. 1503 / S.F. 2101 will benefit youth on social media sites by prohibiting the use of algorithms that feed them inappropriate content.

Social media usage has significantly increased within the last decade, and it is time to put concrete parameters in place to keep our kids safe online. We recognize that social media and the internet can both be helpful tools, but they can pose dangers as well.

It is vital for teen development that we prohibit the use of algorithms that feed inappropriate or unfiltered content and cultivate addictive behavior. Limiting the impact of social media provides a concrete step towards mitigating these evidential harms during teens’ most formative years.

Ninety-five percent of teens ages 13 to 17 have access to a smartphone, 45 percent say they are online “almost constantly,” and another 44 percent say they are on the internet several times a day, according to a 2018 Pew Research Study.[1] A 2023 report by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), exposed that “nearly three in five teenage girls felt persistent sadness in 2021. And one in three girls seriously considered attempting suicide, up 60% from a decade ago.”[2] In addition, youth who spend the most time on social media reportedly have a 13 to 66% higher depression rate.[3]

It is no secret that the increased use of social media has contributed to these feelings of sadness, anxiety, and depression. The goal for these algorithms is to keep users engaged in the platform for as long as possible, which in turn gives a false fabrication of connectedness and reality.

Prohibiting the use of social media algorithms is a concrete step we can take to help keep our kids safe and take a step towards mitigating the mental health crisis plaguing our youth.

Church Teaching: 

The use of social media and the internet certainly has advantages that we cannot deny. Still, room exists for discretion and age-appropriate usage. In a document released by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications provides caution when it comes to online use both for parents and for teens[1]:

“To parents. For the sake of their children, as well as for their sakes, parents must ‘learn and practice the skills of discerning viewers and listeners and readers, acting as models of prudent use of media in the home’. As far as the Internet is concerned, children and young people often are more familiar with it than their parents are, but parents still are seriously obliged to guide and supervise their children in its use. If this means learning more about the Internet than they have up to now, that will be all too good.”

To children and young people. The Internet is a door opening on a glamorous and exciting world with a powerful formative influence, but not everything on the other side of the door is safe and wholesome, and true. ‘Children and young people should be open to formation regarding media, resisting the easy path of uncritical passivity, peer pressure, and commercial exploitation’. The young owe it to themselves—and to their parents and families and friends, their pastors and teachers, and ultimately to God—to use the Internet well.”

With so much content being pushed towards teens, regulating what they see and teaching them about safe practices is becoming increasingly difficult. Let’s take a step as a state towards protecting our kids by limiting the targeted content being pushed by Big Tech.

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