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State unveils legislation to protect kids online amid rising mental health concerns

  • / Updated:
  • Staff Report 

In response to growing concerns over the mental health impacts of social media on the youth, Governor Kathy Hochul, joined by New York Attorney General Letitia James, State Senator Andrew Gounardes, and Assemblymember Nily Rozic, announced two proposed bills aimed at regulating the digital landscape for minors.


The legislation seeks to curb harmful online behaviors by restricting certain social media features and data collection practices targeting minors. Citing research that connects excessive social media use with increased rates of depression, anxiety, and suicidal tendencies among young people, officials are taking action to mitigate potential harm.

The first bill, dubbed the “SAFE for Kids Act,” will limit addictive social media features, providing users under 18 with a default chronological feed and allowing parents to set usage restrictions.

The second, the “New York Child Data Protection Act,” focuses on online privacy, barring platforms from gathering or selling personal data from individuals under 18 without explicit consent.

Notably, parental consent is required for those under 13. Both pieces of legislation underscore a larger effort by state officials to prioritize youth mental health and online safety, especially as studies reveal a significant correlation between prolonged social media use and mental health challenges in adolescents.