As a screen addiction coach, I am deeply concerned about the impact that social media can have on children. In recent years, there has been growing evidence that social media companies are using children’s personal information to target them with advertisements, which can be both invasive and harmful.

Targeted advertising can be highly effective, and companies know this. By collecting personal information about children, social media companies can create highly managed profiles that allow them to deliver ads that are more likely to be effective. This can lead to children being exposed to ads that are not age-appropriate, or that encourage them to make purchases they may not need or want.

Furthermore, social media addiction can be a very real issue for many children. Studies have shown that excessive social media use can have negative impacts on mental health, including increased rates of anxiety, depression, and even suicide

That’s why I was interested to hear about the recent legislation passed in Utah aimed at protecting children from these practices. The new law requires social media companies to obtain opt-in consent from children and their parents before collecting their personal information and using it for targeted advertising. A second Bill will also prohibit children under eighteen from using social media between the hours of 10:30 pm and 6:30 am, and require age verification for anyone who wishes to use social media in the State.

Other States such as Arkansas, New Jersey, Texas, Ohio, and Louisiana have comparable proposals in the works. However, California enacted a law requiring tech companies to put children’s safety first by barring them from profiling children or misusing their personal information that could be harmful or abusive.

This is a major step forward in protecting children’s privacy online. By requiring social media companies to obtain explicit consent, the law gives parents more control over their children’s personal information and helps to ensure that children are not being targeted with ads without their knowledge.

But, is it right for the government to take control of parental responsibility?

While limiting screen time can be helpful, it’s important to address the underlying issues that contribute to social media addiction in the first place. Children turn to social media for a variety of reasons, including boredom, loneliness, and the need for social connection. Simply limiting screen time without addressing these underlying issues is unlikely to solve the problem.

While the Utah law may help to reduce the amount of time that children spend on these platforms, potentially mitigating some of the negative effects of social media addiction, removing specific times a child can have access doesn’t teach them about self-regulation.

Excessive screen time has been linked to a variety of negative effects on children’s physical and mental health, including obesity, poor sleep, anxiety, and decreased social skills. By learning to regulate by setting limits and prioritizing other activities, children can develop healthy habits and maintain a balanced lifestyle. 

Additionally, practicing self-regulation can help children build skills in self-discipline and decision-making, which are important for success in many areas of life.

Moreover, the law may be difficult to enforce. While parents can do their part by setting limits on screen time at home, it’s much harder to control what children do outside the home. Social media is everywhere, and children can access it on their phones, at school, and at friends’ houses. It’s important to acknowledge that social media addiction is a complex problem that requires a multifaceted approach.

I think that the State of California’s motion to bar social media companies from profiling children or misusing their personal information on their sites is a move in the right direction. 

But I am not in favour of government laws that block a child’s online access to social media sites during any period of time.

Allowing the government to control our kids’ access to social media can have serious implications for freedom of speech and personal privacy. It is important for parents to take responsibility for monitoring their children’s online activities and teaching them how to use social media in a safe and responsible manner. 

While the government may have good intentions, their actions could potentially infringe on the rights of individuals and limit their ability to express themselves and connect with others. 

Furthermore, the government may not have the necessary expertise or understanding of the ever-evolving landscape of social media to effectively regulate it. 

Ultimately, it is up to parents and caregivers to provide guidance and support to help children navigate the complex digital world.