On Monday, May 23, the California State Assembly passed a bill that would hold social media companies liable for harming children who become addicted to them.
The proposed law, which would only apply to social media platforms that generated at least $100 million in revenue last year, would allow parents to sue up to $25,000 per violation.
Assembly Bill 2408, also known as the “Social Media Platforms Duty to Children Act,” is a bipartisan bill aimed at protecting children under the age of 18 from addiction to social media. It will not apply to streaming services or those that only offer email and text messaging.
What does it mean for a child to become addicted to social media?
The bill defines addiction as:
“Preoccupation, obsession, withdrawal, or difficulty stopping or reducing use of a social media site despite the user’s desire to stop or limit such use (that) causes or contributes to physical, mental, emotional, developmental, or material harm to the user.”
Jordan Cunningham, co-author of Bell (R-San Luis Obispo County), tells SELF News agency“The era of unrestrained social experiences for children is over and we will protect children.”
The bill must still be passed by the California Senate and signed by the governor to become law.
Business groups oppose the bill, and suggest that the platforms would stop operating in California
What does this law mean for social media companies?
In a letter to lawmakers, Technet, a network of chief technology executives, wrote:
“Social media companies and online web services will have no choice but to cease operations of children under the age of 18 and implement strict age verification to ensure that teens do not use their sites.”
Technet and other business groups contend that no social media platform is willing to risk this kind of liability.
Social media use is common, and potentially harmful to minors
according to American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry75% of 13-17-year-olds have at least one active social media profile, with 51% reporting their daily use of sites like Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.
a National survey on child health By CS Mott Children’s Hospital it was found that 32% of children between the ages of 7 and 9 were active on social media apps.
Study 2019 13- to 16-year-olds in England, it was found that frequent social media users were three times more likely to have poor mental health, which was attributed to cyberbullying, sleep deprivation and a sedentary lifestyle.
American study of the same year It found that children ages 12 to 15 who spend more than three hours a day on social media may be at higher risk for mental health problems.
Source: News agency
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