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New York advocates for child safety online amid mental health concerns

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  • Staff Report 

In response to growing mental health issues among youth, New York is advancing legislation to create a safer online environment for children and teenagers. Attorney General Leticia James, backing the initiative, highlighted the detrimental effects of social media on young minds, citing studies that show teenagers are engaged online for an average of eight hours daily. The proposed SAFER Kids Online Act and the New York Child Protection Act aim to mitigate these impacts by regulating social media companies’ practices.

The SAFER Kids Online Act seeks to limit addictive algorithms on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok and proposes restrictions on notifications and access between midnight and 6 am to combat sleep disruption among students. Teachers, rallying for the cause, report significant classroom fatigue due to students’ overnight phone usage. Meanwhile, the New York Child Protection Act intends to safeguard young users’ data by prohibiting its collection, purchase, and distribution without consent.

These legislative efforts underscore New York’s proactive stance against the unchecked commercial priorities of social media giants, striving to prioritize children’s well-being over profit. As federal action lags, with no significant child online protection laws passed since 1998, New York’s lawmakers and advocates emphasize the necessity of local measures to ensure the digital health and safety of the next generation.