FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 16, 2023
New poll finds overwhelming public support for bipartisan legislation to protect kids from online harms
BOSTON, MA — Thursday, November 16, 2023 — Nearly 9 in 10 U.S. voters support the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) which would adopt responsible safeguards
Bipartisan legislation that would require social media platforms to protect kids and teens from online harms has near universal support across the political spectrum, according to a new poll released today by Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media and Fairplay. The findings come amid growing calls for lawmakers to put responsible safeguards in place to address the harmful impact of social media on young people after another whistleblower came before Congress to testify that Meta knew its products were hurting kids.
In the new poll of U.S. voters, conducted by Hans Kaiser and Associates/Hart Research, 87% of the electorate believes that it is important for the president and Congress to take action to combat the harms being caused by social media platforms. This includes 86% of respondents who voted for former President Trump in the 2020 presidential election, and 88% of voters who supported then-candidate Joe Biden. Nearly all voters (94%) agree that mental health challenges facing children and teens today are a serious problem, and three in four (73%) blame social media and say the platforms have had a negative impact on the mental health of youth over the last 20 years.
Further demonstrating the overwhelming public support for congressional action, 86% of voters support the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which would require social media platforms to protect minors from specific online harms, such as the promotion of eating disorders, suicide, substance abuse, and sexual exploitation. The bill would provide children and parents with new safeguards, require the strongest safety settings by default, and impose penalties on companies whose design features expose children to these types of harms on their platforms.
“Parents have had enough. They’re doing everything they can to keep their kids safe online, but parents can’t do this alone,” said Alix Fraser, director of Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media. “Congress must take action now by passing KOSA into law. Voters are demanding leadership, and it’s time for lawmakers to deliver on their promises and take meaningful steps to keep our children safe online and finally hold tech companies accountable.”
Support for KOSA crosses partisan lines, with 84% of Republicans, 92% of Democrats, and 81% of independents in favor of it. Only 8% of poll respondents expressed opposition to KOSA.
“For years, Big Tech has put profits ahead of kids’ lives while Congress has sat on the sidelines,” said Josh Golin, executive director of Fairplay. “Our nation’s leaders can no longer be silent in the face of a strong bipartisan majority of the public that wants to see strong action to protect young people online. KOSA will make the internet a safer and healthier place for kids and teens.”
More than 90% of all respondents also expressed concern about a wide range of negative impacts social media is having on children and teens, from being vulnerable to online predators to rates of cyberbullying, anxiety, depression, and suicide.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics has long understood the value in the Kids Online Safety Act’s approach to making online environments and experiences healthier and safer for children and teens, and these results make clear that the American public understands the need for the accountability and safeguards KOSA would put in place,” said Mark Del Monte, chief executive officer of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This robust support for KOSA across nearly every category of public opinion further underscores that now is the time for Congress to act.”
KOSA was introduced earlier this year by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). The bill was voted unanimously out of the Senate Commerce Committee in July, and has nearly fifty cosponsors from members of both parties. KOSA is currently awaiting a full vote in the Senate.
Issue One is the leading crosspartisan political reform group in Washington, D.C. We unite Republicans, Democrats, and independents in the movement to fix our broken political system and build an inclusive democracy that works for everyone. Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media is a bipartisan group of more than 50 leaders from different sectors who have come together to create a healthier social media environment and find solutions to the technological harms to our kids, communities, and national security.
Fairplay is the leading nonprofit organization committed to helping children thrive in an increasingly commercialized, screen-obsessed culture, and the only organization dedicated to ending marketing to children. Working closely with policymakers, health and child development experts, and our supporters, we’re bringing to life a new vision of childhood — one shaped by what’s best for kids, not what’s best for profits. Fairplay’s advocacy is grounded in the overwhelming evidence that child-targeted marketing – and the excessive screen time it encourages – undermines kids’ healthy development.