“I see the addiction” – First ally and youth advocates call on big tech companies to protect young people from harm on social media


SACRAMENTO – First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom released a new report Wednesday with the California Partners Project on the effects of social media on young people.

Gather on the steps of the state capitol with Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks and youth speakers from the Healthy Online Forum for Everyone (HOPE) Coalition to address the change they want to see.

“It’s the kind of fake reality that’s on social media that makes people feel bad about themselves,” said Ayush Verma, a high school senior with the HOPE Youth Coalition.

The report, titled “Shared Experiences: How Social Media Affects the Safety and Empowerment of Girls and Young Women,” delves into the latest data with UCLA researchers and includes recommendations for reducing the negative impact of social media and managing its use. Potentially good.

Young people who spoke on Wednesday said that because of social media, happiness and peace have turned into tension and hurt.

“I saw my little brother watching a scary video about SpongeBob,” said Nancy Aguilar, 20, with the HOPE Youth Coalition.

Aguilar said she swapped the videos for arts and crafts and saw a noticeable change in her brother.

“He was supposed to be throwing tantrums and being aggressive,” Aguilar said. “Now it’s very common.”

First partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom is responsible for large technology companies.

“Big technology and big money are prioritizing their own pocketbooks at the expense of our children’s mental health and well-being,” First Agar said. “I see the addiction.”

A recent CDC report found that 30 percent of American teenage girls have seriously considered taking their own lives — an increase from 60 percent a decade ago.

The solution: Kids spend more time outdoors and a $4.7 billion investment in youth mental health resources.

“How to deal with big emotions, coping skills,” said Siebel Newsom. “We’ve promoted park passes and equitable access to California state parks.”

Two reporters from Elk Grove Elementary School interviewed the first partner after the press conference to ask how she was helping to create this change.

Siebel Newsom says more than this kind of engagement is needed to better understand young people and give them a voice.

“Young people in particular know it’s hurting them and want to see real change,” Siebel Newsom said.

Some of these changes she wants to see are better online protections, expanded media literacy programs, and investing in diverse young women as technology leaders and innovators.

“We need everyone’s help to fight the big forces of multi-billion dollar ad companies,” Verma said.

Many young people who spoke up raised concerns about the advertisements they see on social media, such as alcohol and drug abuse.

“A lot of people under 21 are not legal,” Verma said. “They are influenced by those ads.”

Others, like Aguilar, call themselves “observers” on social media. She says she has the bills, but doesn’t post much.

“I don’t like posting anything on my Instagram,” Aguilar said. “It’s all blank. I’ll erase all traces. I don’t want my information to be seen.”

Governor Gavin Newsom signed California’s age-appropriate design code (AB 2273, Wicks) last year.

This will be implemented in July 2024 to make technology companies responsible for protecting young people, but it is currently tied up in court.

The law requires online services to design their platforms with children’s safety in mind. This requires businesses to set privacy settings for minor users to the most personal preferences and to prevent the collection or sharing of children’s personal information.

“We are not keeping our communities safe right now,” said Assemblyman Weeks. “We’re not protecting our children from harm on social media.”


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