- Giving parents the ability to see what kind of content their children are being fed by algorithms or other users could give them an early warning sign. Tweet This
- The most important step policymakers could take is to require that all minors receive permission from a parent or legal guardian in order to open an account on a social media site or app. Tweet This
- The next-level strategy would be to link a parent’s account with their kid’s, giving Mom or Dad administrator-level access to view a child’s messages, videos, preferences, and settings. Tweet This
From cyberbullying and peer pressure to explicit content and websites that encourage self-harm and dangerous fads, even the most careful kid can stumble into dangers online. As pre-teens and teens average an hour of watching videos online every day, they are regularly exposed to content their parents would never permit them to see in real life. It’s an open secret that the videos that perform best on TikTok are optimized for engagement, not age-appropriateness.
The first line of defense, of course, are parents and their communities. But while these efforts are necessary, they are not enough. Lawmakers from across the political spectrum, including in progressive California, are recognizing the need to tilt the playing field away from Big Tech and toward protecting kids. Giving parents more tools to ensure their children are safe online should be part of a pro-parent policy agenda.
The most important step policymakers could take is to require that all minors receive permission from a parent or legal guardian in order to open an account on a social media site or app, as Thomas Lehrman and the University of Virginia’s Brad Wilcox have suggested.
But the next-level strategy would be to link that parent’s account with their kid’s, giving Mom or Dad administrator-level access to view a child’s messages, videos, preferences and settings. Already, many parents ask their kids for their passwords to their social media sites, although some feel that doing so would suggest a lack of trust. Of course, parents would never have to use that access if they didn’t want to, but having it be the default might help parents be more aware of what their kids are seeing online, and do a better job having conversations about social-media content.
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