FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, November 8, 2023
David Monahan, Fairplay: [email protected]
Day of Action as Advocates for Youth Urge Hill: Pass the Kids Online Safety Act Now
Momentum keeps growing: 217 organizations call on Congress to address the youth mental health crisis spurred by social media
BOSTON, MA — Wednesday, November 8, 2023 — Today, a huge coalition of advocacy groups is conducting a day of action urging Congress to finally address the youth mental health crisis and pass the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA, S. 1409). Momentum in support of the bill continues to build and today 217 groups which advocate for children and teens across a myriad of areas–including mental health, privacy, suicide prevention, eating disorders, and child sexual abuse prevention–are sending a letter urging Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Senate Minority Leader McConnell to move KOSA to a floor vote by the end of this year. “After numerous hearings and abundant research findings,” the coalition writes, “the evidence is clear of the potential harms social media platforms can have on the brain development and mental health of our nation’s youth, including hazardous substance use, eating disorders, and self-harm.” “With this bipartisan legislation,” they write, “Congress has the potential to significantly improve young people’s wellbeing by transforming the digital environment for children and teens.”
KOSA, authored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) enjoys growing bi-partisan support; it is endorsed by 48 US Senators–24 from each side of the aisle. Today’s day of action will see supporters of the 217 organizations calling senators to urge a floor vote and support for KOSA.
The letter and day of action follow: a suit by 42 attorneys general against Meta for exploiting young users’ vulnerabilities on Instagram; persistent calls to pass KOSA from parents of children who died from social media harms; and Tuesday’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Social Media and the Teen Mental Health Crisis.
Josh Golin, Executive Director of Fairplay:
“Every day that Congress allows social media companies to self-regulate, children suffer, and even die, from preventable harms and abuses online. The Kids Online Safety Act would force companies like Meta, TikTok and Snap to design their platforms in ways that reduce risks for children, and create a safer and less addictive internet for young people.
James P. Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media:
“With a new whistleblower and 42 states filing suit against Meta for its deceptive practices and dangerous platform design, the growing support and urgent need for KOSA is now too strong to ignore. Common Sense will continue to work with lawmakers and advocates on both sides of this bill to once and for all begin to curb the harms that online platforms are causing for young people.
Sacha Haworth, Executive Director of the Tech Oversight Project:
“The disturbing revelations sadly add to a mountain of evidence proving that tech companies are willfully negligent and even openly hostile to protecting minors from the harms their products bring. As a mother, my heart breaks for the kids who experienced pain and harassment online because tech executives were willing to sacrifice their physical and emotional health in pursuit of profit. Lives are on the line, and we cannot sit on the sidelines. We need to pass KOSA to force companies like Meta to protect children and teens and treat them with the dignity they deserve.”
Katharina Kopp, Director of Policy, Center for Digital Democracy:
“The public health crisis that children and teens experience online requires an urgent intervention from policymakers. We need platform accountability and an end to the exploitation of young people. Their well-being is more important than the ‘bottom-line’ interests of platforms. KOSA will prevent companies taking advantage of the developmental vulnerabilities of children and teens. We urge the U.S Senate to bring KOSA to a floor vote by the end of the year.”