A recent survey found that teenagers spend eight hours and 39 minutes a day on screens while tweens spend five hours and 44 minutes a day on screens. This becomes even more disconcerting knowing that the average teen in America sleeps only around 7 hours a night. American teenagers spend more time on their cellphones than sleeping; that is a problem. The common argument is that kids are interacting with their friends through social platforms—a harmless addiction. But this could not be further from the truth.
Another survey found that teens spend only around 20 minutes a day video chatting with friends while they spent multiple hours watching videos. The algorithms that are implemented in these platforms can quickly devolve into kids stumbling upon harmful content, like violence, pornography, and pro-eating disorder content. It was discovered that 1.6 million users follow pro-eating disorder Instagram accounts that profits Meta, Instagram’s parent company, $1.8 million per year. Social media companies know that the longer they can keep kids and teenagers staring at their platform the higher their revenues will be. This gives social media companies negative incentive to capitalize on the average American teenager’s social media addiction.
In February, Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee attended the Senate Judiciary Committee’s “Protecting Our Children Online” hearing. Both Democrats and Republican Senators were clear that protecting our kids online must be a top priority and agreed to link arms to ensure legislation is enacted that will do just that.
The founding of the internet in the 1980’s was a massively transformative invention that nobody would have expected to evolve to what it is today. This invention changed society immensely in a very short period of time and really our legislation has not caught up to it. One Senator referenced the online world as, “the wild, wild west,” as there are very few regulations. An individual cannot get into a bar unless they show an ID that says they are 18 years old, yet any child can access a pornographic website. Why is this the case?
Big Tech companies must be held accountable. We must provide kids and parents with the tools, safeguards, and transparency that is necessary to protect our children online.