Kids and social media

Assemblywoman Marie Waldron

Millions of children and young adults throughout the nation are active social media users. Last week two bills dealing with social media’s impact on child and adolescent mental health passed the Assembly Health Committee.

Worldwide, there are 34 social media platforms, with at least 100 million users. According to a U.S. Surgeon General’s report last year, 95% of teens aged 13 to 17 use social media, and more than one in three report they use it “almost constantly.” Most social media platforms require users to beat least 13, but 40% of children ages 8 to 12 report they use social media despite age restrictions.

As we all know, adolescence is a critical period of development. The report found that adoles­cents who use social media more than three hours each day face twice the risk of experiencing poor mental outcomes. These include depression, anxiety, in­adequate sleep, low self-esteem, eating disorders and online ha­rassment.

On the other hand, social me­dia’s impact on our youth can be beneficial. Positive commu­nity connections with others who share identities, abilities and interests, increased self-expression and the ability to form friendships and social con­nections can all be enhanced through social media.

The issue is complex, and requires more attention, but additional standards and safe­guards may be necessary. AB 2657 will set up the Social Media Commission, comprised of experts and stakeholders tasked with creating a com­prehensive report with formal recommendations for regulat­ing social media as it relates to child and adolescent mental health. AB 2390 will create a Social Media Harm Reduction Pilot Program to comprehen­sively examine the adverse mental health impacts result­ing from the use of social media by children through the 12th grade. Both bills were intro­duced by Assemblyman Joa­quin Arambula (D – Fresno) and passed the Health Com­mittee without opposition.

Our vulnerable children and youth must be protected dur­ing their formative years. By passing AB 2657 and AB 2390, we will begin to take a look at a critical mental health issue that impacts children, youth and our future.


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