Hochul Signs Bill to Combat Social Media Addiction Hochul Signs Bill to Combat Social Media Addiction

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – New York Gov. Kathy Hochul signed the SAFE For Kids Act Thursday in the state’s latest effort to combat social media’s impact on the youth.

The bill would require social media platforms, like TikTok and Instagram, to add parental control settings to their algorithms. Currently, many social media platforms curate content for each individual user, leading to an increase in screen time among users.

U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said earlier this week that teenagers, on average, spend around five hours daily on social media platforms. 

“It is time to require a surgeon general’s warning label on social media platforms, stating that social media is associated with significant mental health harms for adolescents,” Murthy wrote in an opinion piece in The New York Times Monday.

Hochul had been pushing the SAFE For Kids Act since October, urging New York lawmakers to join her in the fight against “addictive algorithms.” Thursday, that mission took a big step in the right direction.

“By reining in addictive feeds and shielding kids’ personal data, we’ll provide a safer digital environment, give parents more peace of mind, and create a brighter future for young people across New York,” said Hochul, at Thursday’s bill signing.

The impact of this bill reaches far beyond Albany. Syracuse University professor Alexander Dunbar said this is the first step to achieving online safety, but far from the last.

“I think this really may be the opening to some negotiations with tech companies to say ‘how can we better implement parental controls?’” said Dunbar.

Syracuse natives also had a say, like Tracy (who wished to keep her last name anonymous). Tracy is well-versed in social media, as a mother of three.

“Social media is very habit-forming,” said Tracy. “Limiting [kids’] exposure at younger ages is really, really important.”

Ron, another Syracuse native who did not wish to reveal his last name, said that he does not use social media. However, he sees the effects the platforms have on shaping the youth. Ron believes social media prevents children and teens from forming hobbies and other pastimes.

“If [companies] like TikTok can keep them on the computer, it’s going to take away from what they want to do,” said Ron.

New York Sen. John Mannion issued a statement to NCC News, which reads:

“The data is clear – social media algorithms can harm children and reasonable restrictions will protect the health and safety of our young people. I’m proud to support this commonsense legislation.”

The SAFE For Kids Act, now signed into law, is speculated by some to bring up a debate regarding First Amendment liberties. NCC News will follow this story closely over the following months.

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