Family Digital Wellness

Training & Programs / Family Digital Wellness

The foundation of our society and economy is now grounded in the digital world, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated this trend. A March 2022 survey released by Common Sense Media, found that children and teens are spending more time than ever before on digital devices. This survey found children ages 8 to 12 spend on average five hours and 33 minutes on screens, and teens ages 13 to 18 spend eight and a half hours on screens per day.

While there is an emphasis on protecting children online from predators and preserving kids’ mental and physical health, a piece of the puzzle is missing. Now that we are immersed in the digital world, it is imperative to equip parents and families to recognize warning signs of digital threats and to create healthy relationships and interactions with digital technologies in order to prevent abuse and future harm. This is why PFSA has developed the Family Digital Wellness initiative.

Family Digital Wellness: An inclusive, supportive, and preventative approach aimed to strengthen families in raising healthy children in a digital era.

Did You Know?

  • 69% of U.S. children have their own smartphone by age 12.
  • 70% of kids encounter sexual or violent content online while doing homework research.
  • 1 in 5 youth ages 10-17 received a sexual solicitation or were approached online.
  • 40% of children in grades 4-8 say they have chatted with a stranger online.
  • 20% of teens have sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos.
  • About 7 in 10 parents think smartphones could bring more harm than good to children.
  • 66% of U.S. parents say parenting is harder today than it was 20 years ago, with many in this group citing technology as a reason why.

Introducing the Family Digital Wellness Parent Toolkit!

Perhaps you want to be proactive in protecting your family against digital dangers that threaten children and families. Or maybe you have witnessed others struggling with these issues, or you and your family have experienced struggles of your own. Whatever your reason may be, it is important to know that you are not alone, and resources do exist.

PFSA has developed a comprehensive toolkit for parents who are ready to learn more about Family Digital Wellness, what it means, and how it can be used to increase safety and create healthy interactions with digital technologies. This toolkit is built on the foundation of PFSA’s Digital Diligence Framework, which encourages parents to follow five steps in their journey towards digital wellness.

Download our FREE Parent Toolkit today to learn more and to apply easy-to-implement solutions for your family!

Coaching Guide: To learn about our accompanying Family Digital Wellness Coaching Guide for professionals, email us at

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PFSA’s Family Digital Wellness Resources

Foundations of Family Digital Wellness

Digital wellness is built upon skills and practices that encourage users to protect themselves, and their families, from digital dangers through simple and proactive actions, while also shifting the way in which technology is used to effectively support safe and healthy interactions online and on digital devices. These skills and practices are the Foundations of Family Digital Wellness.

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PFSA’s Family Digital Wellness Overview

In the 1980’s and 90’s the “Just Say No” campaign aimed to discourage children from engaging in illegal recreational drug use by offering various ways of saying no. Today, we must focus on how to discourage our children from engaging in the risky and dangerous behaviors of the digital era stemming from an increased use and dependence of digital technologies. Check out this resource to learn more about PFSA’s Family Digital Wellness initiative and goals.

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Common Digital Dangers Booklet

While many of us are aware digital dangers exist and the threats of digital technologies are growing, most parents and caregivers are not aware of all the common risks for children in digital environments. As we tackle the challenge of protecting children and preventing future harm in digital environments, understanding the most common digital threats equips parents to raise safe and healthy children. Check out this resource to learn more about common digital dangers, warning signs, and what you can do.

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The Digital Era Family Profile

We are truly living in an unprecedented time. The current generation of parents/caregivers is the first to raise children with a presence in both physical and digital worlds. Dependency on digital technologies has rapidly increased in our society, quickly becoming part of our everyday lives. Everything, including work, school, socializing, and entertainment, has turned digital for adults and children alike. Check out this resource to learn more about today’s digital era family.

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Tips for Parents

Family Digital Wellness requires intention and many ongoing actions that create a comprehensive approach to raising safe and healthy kids in the digital-era. But taking the first small step to safeguard against digital threats is critical for parents and families as they begin the journey. Check out this resource to learn more about tips that parents can implement right away with your family.

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Preventing Digital Threats

While digital technologies change and new threats emerge rapidly, the most effective strategy for preventing future harm is practicing positive and healthy digital behaviors. With any risk to our children, equipping them with knowledge and guidance lays a foundation for positive outcomes. Check out this resource to learn more about what to avoid and how to take steps towards preventing digital threats for you and your family.

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Other Related Resources

-Media Resources

Digital for Good Book – In Digital for Good, EdTech expert Richard Culatta argues that technology can be a powerful tool for learning, solving humanity’s toughest problems, and bringing us closer together. He offers a refreshingly positive framework for preparing kids to be successful in a digital world—one that encourages them to use technology proactively and productively—by outlining five qualities every young person should develop in order to become a thriving, contributing digital citizen.

Childhood 2.0 DocumentaryChildhood 2.0 is a must-view for anyone who wants to better understand the world their children are navigating as they grow up in the digital age. Featuring actual parents and kids as well as industry-leading experts in child safety and development, this documentary dives into the real-life issues facing kids today — including cyberbullying, online predators, suicidal ideation, and more.

The Social Dilemma Documentary – In The Social Dilemma, Tech experts from Silicon Valley sound the alarm on the dangerous impact of social networking, which Big Tech use in an attempt to manipulate and influence.

NetSmartz – NetSmartz is an online safety education program. It provides age-appropriate videos and activities to help teach children be safer online with the goal of helping children to become more aware of potential online risks and empowering them to help prevent victimization by making safer choices on- and offline.

-Parental Control Resources

Bark – Bark monitors texts, email, YouTube, and 30+ apps and social media platforms for signs of issues like cyberbullying, sexual content, online predators, depression, suicidal ideation, threats of violence, and more.

Gabb Wireless – Gabb Wireless provides a great first phone for your child(ren). No games, social media, or internet. They also have an interactive watch that works as an alternative to an actual phone.

The Protect App – The Protect app has hundreds of bite-sized lessons and content to make it easy for busy parents to get the quick tips they need. The app also includes 20 videos produced with teens and young adults. Parents and kids watch these videos together.

-Research Resources

Common Sense Media – Since 2003, Common Sense has been the leading source of entertainment and technology recommendations for families and schools. Every day, millions of parents and educators trust Common Sense reviews and advice to help them navigate the digital world with their kids.

The Digital Wellness Lab – The Digital Wellness Lab synergizes global thought leaders from tech, content creation and health sciences, in order to best investigate, translate, innovate and intervene to build a digital environment that advances the well-being of families, society and humanity at large.

Thorn – Thorn builds technology to defend children from sexual abuse and houses the first engineering and data science team focused solely on developing new technologies to combat online child sexual abuse.

National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) – NCMEC is the nation’s nonprofit clearinghouse and comprehensive reporting center for all issues related to the prevention of and recovery from child victimization.

-Government Resources

FBI: Safe Online Surfing: Click to visit webpage

FBI Online Resource Page: Click to visit webpage

FTC Resources: Click to visit webpage

News & Media Stories – Stay Up to Date!

CNN: Why Bucks County, Pennsylvania, is suing social media companies: One mother in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, said her 18-year-old daughter is so obsessed with TikTok, she’ll spend hours making elaborate videos for the Likes, and will post retouched photos of herself online to look skinnier. Another mother in the same county told CNN her 16-year-old daughter’s ex-boyfriend shared partially nude images of the teen with another Instagram user abroad via direct messages. After a failed attempt at blackmailing the family, the user posted the pictures on Instagram, according to the mother, with some partial blurring of her daughter’s body to bypass Instagram’s algorithms that ban nudity. “I worked so hard to get the photos taken down and had people I knew from all over the world reporting it to Instagram,” the mother said. The two mothers, who spoke with CNN on condition of anonymity, highlight the struggles parents face with the unique risks posed by social media, including the potential for online platforms to lead teens down harmful rabbit holes, compound mental health issues and enable new forms of digital harassment and bullying. But on Friday, their hometown of Bucks County became what’s believed to be the first county in the United States to file a lawsuit against social media companies, alleging TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Facebook have worsened anxiety and depression in young people, and that the platforms are designed to “exploit for profit” their vulnerabilities.

Glenside Local: PA lawmakers introducing social media bill, Sen. Haywood co-sponsors firearm ammunition bill: The Pennsylvania state Senate will soon introduce a bill mandating age verification on social media platforms and allowing parents/guardians to submit a request to delete a minor’s social media account. “There are clear and demonstrated harms to children who utilize these platforms, a fact which has been known by social media companies for years,” State Rep. Robert W. Mercuri (R-Allegheny) said in a co-sponsorship memorandum. “Attempts by these companies to curtail such harms failed to alleviate the problem and actually made it worse.” Mercuri has also taken a stand against the platform Tiktok, which is owned by a Chinese company. In a memo to the PA House Mercuri said the bill would “protect the Commonwealth’s information technology assets from security risks associated with the social media network TikTok.”

CT Mirror: CT-led bill aims to protect kids online. Will it clear Congress?: As revelations about the harmful toll of social media on children and teens have become public over the past few years, Congress sought to amp up the pressure on Big Tech and pass legislation for the first time in decades to protect minors and hold companies accountable. Some of those efforts “came heartbreakingly close” to materializing at the end of the year but ultimately faded and got punted to the new session of Congress that started in January. One of those bills, co-authored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., focuses on the safety aspect and gives children and parents greater control over what online content can be viewed. The issue came to a head when Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen testified before Congress in 2021 about the harmful effects of social media on children and teenagers and how tech giants kept users engaged to turn profits. Lawmakers like Blumenthal believe the growing bipartisan support on this issue could lead to the passage of tech reforms this time around — possibly this year. 

Bloomberg Law: Utah Taunts Social Media Sites With Sweeping Teen Restrictions: Utah’s first-in-the-nation legislation to restrict how social media companies treat young users and allow individuals to sue over violations will set the stage for a tech industry legal battle regarding their constitutionality. Gov. Spencer Cox (R), citing concerns over youth mental health, plans to sign into law Thursday two bills that aim to protect children from addictive features and other potential harms of social media. Platforms such as Facebook and Twitter would have to obtain parental consent if a user under 18 wants to open an account, and the companies could face fines and lawsuits for running afoul of a host of new requirements. The bills are among the most stringent efforts by state lawmakers across the country this year to regulate a child’s experience online. Tech industry groups said in letters asking Cox to veto the measures that they would violate the First Amendment and lead to frivolous lawsuits. 

Next Gov: ‘Alarming Content’ from AI Chatbots Raises Child Safety Concerns, Senator Says: As leading technology companies rush to integrate artificial intelligence into their products, a Democratic senator is demanding answers about how these firms are working to protect their young users from harm—particularly following a series of news reports that detailed disturbing content created by AI-powered chatbots. In a letter on Tuesday to the CEOs of five companies—Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Facebook parent company Meta, Microsoft, OpenAI and Snap—Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., expressed concern about “the rapid integration of generative artificial intelligence into search engines, social media platforms and other consumer products heavily used by teenagers and children.” Bennet noted that, since OpenAI’s ChatGPT was launched in November, “leading digital platforms have rushed to integrate generative AI technologies into their applications and services.” While he acknowledged the “enormous potential” of generative AI’s adoption into a range of technologies, Bennet added that “the race to integrate it into everyday applications cannot come at the expense of younger users’ safety and wellbeing.” 

Patch: PA Could Mandate Social Media Age Limits, Allow Parents To Delete: As the reckoning for social media platforms that critics say have recklessly harmed children continues, Pennsylvania legislators are looking for more ways to keep young people safe. Legislation will soon be introduced in the Pennsylvania state Senate which would mandate age verification on social media platforms. It would also allow parents to request a child’s account be deleted. “There are clear and demonstrated harms to children who utilize these platforms, a fact which has been known by social media companies for years,” State Rep. Robert W. Mercuri (R-Allegheny) said in a co-sponsorship memorandum “Attempts by these companies to curtail such harms failed to alleviate the problem and actually made it worse.” 

The Hill: Utah’s Cox says he will sign divisive social media bill restricting minors: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) on Thursday said he’ll sign a divisive bill restricting minors from using social media without parental permission. Cox said at a meeting with reporters that he’ll “absolutely” sign the social media bills sent to his desk this session: Utah Senate Bill 152 would require social media companies to verify that users in the state are 18 years or older in order to open an account, and Cox said he is willing to face any legal challenges to the initiative. “I’m not gonna back down from a potential legal challenge when these companies are killing our kids,” Cox said, according to footage from PBS Utah, shaking off First Amendment concerns. Under the bill, Utah residents under age 18 would only be able open an account with a parent or guardian’s permission. The new restrictions would take effect March 1, 2024. The governor said he would be working with social media companies and third-party verification over the next year to work out the details of how the restrictions would be implemented. 

Gizmodo: Parents Group Demands Meeting With Meta and TikTok Over Child Suicide: A family advocacy group called Parents Together published an open letter Thursday demanding a meeting with the heads of Meta and ByteDance, arguing that the companies knowingly expose children to a variety of dire threats, including the risk of suicide, and that they refuse to address these problems in lieu of growth and profit. The open letter describes a number of horror stories from families who say their children fell victim to the harms posed by social media, including suicides, accidental deaths from viral “challenges,” hospitalizations from eating disorders, sexual abuse, and more. Meta and ByteDance, the parent companies of Facebook and TikTok, respectively, “have imposed on unwitting children and families – anxiety and depression, cyberbullying, sexual predators, disordered eating, dangerous challenges, access to drugs, addiction to your platforms, and more—every single day,” Parents Together Action said in the letter. The companies “have chosen your profits, your stockholders, and your company over children’s health, safety, and even lives over and over again.” 

NBC News: Senators seek answers from Pinterest after NBC News investigation: Days after an NBC News investigation revealed how grown men on Pinterest openly create sex-themed image boards filled with pictures of little girls, the company says it has “dramatically” increased its number of human content moderators. It also unveiled two new features enabling users to report content and accounts for a range of violations. Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., sent a letter to the company Tuesday morning demanding to know why the new tools weren’t already available, among other questions. “It should not have taken national media coverage of such graphic misuse targeting young children to prompt action,” wrote the senators, who are co-sponsors of  the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act. “This report is particularly disappointing given that Pinterest has branded itself the ‘last positive corner of the internet.’” 

The Washington Post: Snapchat tried to make a safe AI. It chats with me about booze and sex.: Snapchat recently launched an artificial intelligence chatbot that tries to act like a friend. It built in some guardrails to make it safer for teens than other AI bots built on the tech that powers the buzzy ChatGPT. But in my tests, conversations with Snapchat’s My AI can still turn wildly inappropriate. After I told My AI I was 15 and wanted to have an epic birthday party, it gave me advice on how to mask the smell of alcohol and pot. When I told it I had an essay due for school, it wrote it for me. In another conversation with a supposed 13-year-old, My AI even offered advice about having sex for the first time with a partner who is 31. “You could consider setting the mood with candles or music,” it told researchers in a test by the Center for Humane Technology I was able to verify. 

Daily Mail: Facebook and Instagram used ‘aggressive tactics’ targeting children: Unredacted lawsuit claims Meta knew about child sexual exploitation and exploited extreme content to drive more engagement: Meta knowingly used ‘aggressive tactics’ that involved getting children hooked on social media ‘in the name of growth,’ according to a lawsuit against Meta claiming children have suffered at the hands of Facebook and Instagram. A Meta software engineer claimed that ‘it is not a secret’ how Facebook and Instagram used meticulous algorithms to promote repetitive and compulsive use among minors, regardless if the content was harmful – and was ‘been pretty unapologetic about it.’ The redacted revelations were disclosed in a lawsuit against Meta, which has been unsealed and seen by 

CBS 12 News: Social Media Safety: subcommittee unanimously sends safety education bill to senate floor: Social media safety has become a primary concern for everyone – especially for schools and parents of young children, who are more vulnerable to it’s dangers. Now, the question of whether the Department of Education should mandate safety instruction on online platforms to children in schools – a proposal in Senate Bill 52 – has been advanced by a senate subcommittee. Social media may be a fun place for people to engage with one another – but at least one cyber expert says kids must learn about its dangers too. “It’s extremely dangerous, there’s no other way around it,” remarked FAU Adjunct Professor and tech expert Craig Agranoff. “We’ve become a society that values likes more than we care, value kindness.” 

The Baltimore Sun: Judge approves redactions for AG’s Catholic clergy abuse report, clearing way for its release: A Baltimore judge approved the needed redactions Tuesday for the attorney general’s report on sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore, clearing the way for its public release. Circuit Judge Robert K. Taylor ordered the Maryland Attorney General’s Office to redact 37 names from the report and to anonymize the identities of 60 other people, removing them from the 456-page document entirely. Taylor’s order leaves the timing of the report’s release at the discretion of Attorney General Anthony Brown, whose office must complete the required redactions and notify the 37 individuals before publishing it. A timeline for when Brown expects to release the report was not available Tuesday afternoon, although it was unlikely the report would be released before Wednesday. The attorney general’s office will publish the report on its website. 

News 5 Cleveland: Big tech, lawmakers, and local schools take steps to monitor screen time and protect children: Mom, Stephanie Miller, remains watchful when it comes to her kids screen time. “Who doesn’t let them be on technology?” Miller said. “You know they can enjoy things, but it’s minimally because I like to keep their minds going in a more educated way, like imaginary play.” In February, Lieutenant Governor, Jon Husted, proposed the Social Media Parental Notification Act. It would require social media and gaming companies to get parental consent before kids under 16 sign up. Dr. Michael Manos, Head of ADHD at the Cleveland Clinic, said too much phone time, early on can be linked to anxiety and depression in children. “The effort to limit screen time is certainly laudable and should have been done a long time ago,” said Manos. 

The Washington Post: Meta doesn’t want to police the metaverse. Kids are paying the price: Zach Mathison, 28, sometimes worries about the hostility in Meta’s virtual reality-powered social media game, Horizon Worlds. When his 7-year old son, Mason, explores the app he encounters users, often other children, screaming obscenities or racist slurs. He is so uneasy about his son that he monitors his every move in VR through a television connected to his Quest headset. When Mathison decides a room is unsafe, he’ll instruct Mason to leave. He frequents online forums to advise other parents to do the same. “A lot of parents don’t really understand it at all so they just usually leave it to the kids to play on there,” he said. He will say “if your kid has an Oculus please try to monitor them and monitor who they’re talking to.” For years, Meta has argued the best way to protect people in virtual reality is by empowering them to protect themselves — giving users tools to control their own environments, such as the ability to block or distance other users. 

NBC News: Men on Pinterest are creating sex-themed image boards of little girls. The platform makes it easy: Like other kids her age, 9-year-old Victoria signed up for Pinterest because she wasn’t allowed on TikTok. Her mother feared she might encounter dangerous content or individuals on the popular video-sharing app. Pinterest, meanwhile, seemed safe. But while the third grader was “pinning” pictures of baby animals, craft ideas and nail art inspiration into her image “boards” on the site, grown men were pinning her. Clips Victoria uploaded of herself to Pinterest, such as one in which she cheerfully turns a cartwheel, have been compiled by at least 50 users into their own boards with titles like “young girls,” as well as “Sexy little girls,” “hot,” “delicious,” and “guilty pleasures.” Those boards are filled with dozens, hundreds and sometimes thousands of photos and videos of children. 

Forbes: Will The U.S. Update Laws For Children’s Digital Privacy?: Despite a last-ditch effort by lawmakers in December 2022, two bills to strengthen online regulatory protection for children in the U.S. failed to make it to Congress’s 2023 fiscal spending plan. The advocacy group Fairplay termed the development “beyond heartbreaking,” adding that “preventable harms and tragedies” were allowed to continue unimpeded. Lawmakers sponsoring the bills blamed the “behemoth sway” of lobbyists working on behalf of Big Tech. These and other voices call attention to the growing dangers of certain online activities to vulnerable children. To regain the initiative, President Joseph Biden demanded a ban on online ads targeting children during his State of the Union address on February 7, 2023. 

The Globe: District 518 warns against scams, encourages parents to talk to kids: District 518 is asking parents and students for help fighting a new social media scam: fake accounts that threaten teens with releasing nude photos of them — pictures that aren’t even real. “We are investigating,” said Anne Foley, public relations/communications coordinator with District 518, noting that investigations take time. “We don’t know if these people are fellow students. We have no idea if these people live in Worthington. And we have no idea how they’re choosing the kids, but there’s been at least two.” 

Social Media Today: New Social Media Restrictions for Youngsters Could Lead to Broader Limits in Access: Could this be a sign of things to come in social media regulation? The State of Utah is set to pass a new law which will restrict people under the age of 18 from using social media apps without a parent’s consent. As per Axios: “Starting March 1st, 2024, all Utahns would have to confirm their ages to use social media platforms or lose account access, under the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Michael McKell.” The new law, if enacted, will add an extra level of protection for youngsters, with parents to lose access to their own social media accounts if they fail to verify their kids’ age, and monitor their activity. 

Wired: TikTok’s Screen-Time Limits Are the Real Distraction: My first cell phone was a brick-shaped Nokia with a couple hundred minutes loaded onto it. My parents gave it to me when I got my first car, on the understanding that, whenever I drove somewhere that wasn’t school, I’d call them as soon as I arrived so they’d know I was safe. It was a reasonable rule—especially given how many times it took me to pass my driver’s test—and one to which I had no problem agreeing. Even still, I almost never remembered to do it. I’d be in the middle of a movie at the theater and I’d realize that I had forgotten to call. I’d sprint out to the car—where I kept the phone itself—and have a brief, harried conversation with my worried and deeply irritated parents. They knew, of course, that I was likely fine. But it’s hard to not know what your kids are doing without you. 

Axios: Tech platforms struggle to verify their users’ age: Social media and streaming platforms are trying to figure out the best ways to verify a user’s age as parents and lawmakers grow increasingly concerned about the way children and teenagers use online services. Driving the news: Those worries — along with recently enacted laws in the United Kingdom and California — have pushed companies to try new processes for ensuring underage users aren’t getting onto sites and services meant for older people. Age verification and age estimation is just one part of an attempt to make tech safer for kids as complaints grow over mental health harms, privacy trespasses and more. 

Axios Salt Lake City: Utah set to limit minors from using social media without parent’s OK: Utah is poised to pass a law restricting children and teens under age 18 from using social media without their parent’s consent. Meanwhile, adults could lose access to their accounts, too, if they refuse to verify their age. The latest: After SB 152 cleared its final legislative hurdle last week, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox told reporters Friday — the final day of the 2023 general session — he planned to sign the bill. Cox said the state was “holding social media companies accountable for the damage that they are doing to our people.” Between the lines: Starting March 1, 2024, all Utahns would have to confirm their ages to use social media platforms or lose account access, under the bill, sponsored by state Rep. Michael McKell (R-Spanish Fork). 

Bucks County Courier Times: Sextortion is on the rise, and it can be deadly. How to protect yourself and your kids: Ian Pisarchuk sat behind a screen and terrorized his victims. He’d befriend them mostly online, and then the demands would start. He wanted photos of them, or said he already had them. He made threats to get what he wanted from girls and young women, using details from their social media accounts to exert power over them and get what he wanted for his own pleasure. “Words cannot describe the anxiety Ian has caused me,” said one of his victims in a Bucks County court last month. In 2019, Pisarchuk set his sights on the young girl, getting her to send him explicit images of herself and then threatening to expose the photos online. 

CNN: Democratic senators urge Meta not to market its metaverse app to teens: Two Democratic senators urged Meta this week to suspend a reported plan to offer Horizon Worlds, the company’s flagship virtual reality app, to teens between the ages of 13 and 17, arguing the technology could harm young users’ physical and mental health. The lawmakers, Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal, called Meta’s plan “unacceptable” in light of the company’s “record of failure to protect children and teens,” in a letter dated Wednesday to company CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The letter focuses on a plan, reported by the Wall Street Journal last month, that would enable Meta’s teen users to join a persistent online world consisting of multiple digital communities through the use of a virtual reality headset. Horizon Worlds is already available to adults 18 and older. 

Time: ‘We Can Turn It Off.’ Why TikTok’s New Teen Time Limit May Not Do Much: TikTok is the most popular social media platform for teens—and by many accounts the time they spend on it is growing. Two-thirds of U.S. teenagers told a 2022 Pew survey that they are on the app, and 16% said they use it constantly. In 2021, the average time kids and teens spent on TikTok grew to 91 minutes a day, up from 82 the year before, according to a report by TechCrunch. So Tuesday’s news that TikTok moved to limit minors to one hour per day sounds like a big deal. But teachers, who have reported concerningly high social media use among students and struggles to compete for their attention, say that while the new limits are a good idea, they might not have a big impact. 

WRIC: Do you know who your children are talking to online? Police warn of influx in social media scams targeting teens: A recent influx of scams targeting teenagers prompted Chesterfield County Police to urge parents to keep a closer eye on their children’s devices. Sergeant Winfred Lewis with Chesterfield County Police Department’s Special Victims team described how these particular scammers prey on young peoples’ fear and embarrassment. “They’re juveniles,” Lewis explained. “They’re teenagers.” Typically, when police warn of online scams, they note how scammers target the elderly, who may be less familiar with modernized social media and web technology. However, with this recent wave of scams, the most internet savvy individuals are vulnerable. Victims have been kids as young as 11 or 12 years old. 

CNET: TikTok Will Limit Teen Screen Time to 60 Minutes by Default: TikTok said Wednesday that it wants teens to be more aware of the time they spend on the popular app for short-form videos. The tech company said it’ll set screen time limits for teens by default and release new features so parents have more control over their children’s use of social media. TikTok users under 18 years old will have their screen time limit automatically set to 60 minutes. The short-form video app said this default screen time will apply to new and existing accounts that haven’t already used this tool. 

Politico: Vivek Murthy wants kids off social media: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy is an evangelist for wellness, hosting town halls and expounding on meditation and mindfulness on his House Calls podcast. He’s particularly concerned about kids’ mental health and has issued guidance for young people, suggesting they ask for help, volunteer in their communities and learn stress management techniques. And he’s testified before Congress about the topic. In conversation with Ruth, he calls out social media as a unique threat to the rising generation, a view shared by many in Congress who are considering legislation to make it harder for kids to use the technology. 

Forbes: Meta Backs New Platform To Help Minors Wipe Naked, Sexual Images Off Internet: The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children has launched a platform, funded by Meta, to help kids and teens have naked or sexual photos and videos of themselves removed from social media. The new service for minors, called Take It Down, was unveiled one year after the release of a similar tool for adults known as StopNCII (short for non-consensual intimate imagery). Today, Take It Down will work only across five platforms that agreed to participate: Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram, as well as Yubo, OnlyFans and Pornhub. “We created this system because many children are facing these desperate situations,” said NCMEC’s president and CEO Michelle DeLaune. “Our hope is that children become aware of this service, and they feel a sense of relief that tools exist to help take the images down.” 

Bloomberg Law: Social Media, Porn Sites Targeted in States Seeking Age Checks: Dozens of proposals pending in statehouses across the country that aim to regulate a child’s experience online are raising concerns over the future of anonymity on the internet. Lawmakers are pushing a variety of bills aimed at boosting privacy protections for kids’ personal information, limiting their access to social media without parental involvement, or keeping them off of sites that include explicit content such as pornography. The measures would rely on companies like Meta Platforms, Inc., Alphabet Inc., and TikTok Inc. to know how old their online users are—posing the conundrum of determining age without gathering too much sensitive information about a person’s identity. 

NBC News Washington: How Social Media and Screen Time Can Affect Children’s Mental Health: New research shows sites like TikTok may have a negative impact on children’s mental health. The algorithm is designed to keep users engaged longer, and studies show the more kids and teens spend on social media, the more likely they’ll be depressed. Psychiatrist Dr. Asha Patton-Smith of Kaiser Permanente offered guidance for parents. 

New Jersey Monitor: N.J. legislators propose punishing social media companies for kids’ online addiction: For teenagers like Nidhi Das, social media became a cherished lifeline to friends during the pandemic’s early days. But as regular life resumed, Das didn’t like how tethered she felt to it. Social media became her go-to boredom buster, and even the misinformation that infects many platforms kept her swiping. “The algorithm, it curates to what you like. And people would make up little controversies, so that might encourage you, like ‘oh, let me look into that.’ Even if it’s not true, I still want to know like: ‘Oh, where did that stem from?’” said Das, 17, a high school senior from Lawrenceville. “The addicting thing is that there’s always something endlessly there, so you keep scrolling.” 

ABC News: Supreme Court wrestles with immunity for social media companies: For the first time Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court wrestled with the scope of a landmark federal law that’s given sweeping legal immunity to internet and social media companies for more than 25 years. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — known in the tech world as the “26 words that created the modern internet” — protects the companies from liability for content posted by individual users, no matter how discriminatory, defamatory or even dangerous the information may be. 

Patch: NYC Mayor: Investigate Social Media, Mr. President: New York City’s drill rap-dissing, burgeoning fuddy-duddy-in-chief has a request for America’s octogenarian commander-in-chief: investigate social media. “I don’t think that we have properly analyzed what social media is doing to us in general, specifically to our young people,” Mayor Eric Adams said Tuesday in response to a question about a teen’s recent subway surfing death. “I am hoping the president calls a national Blue Ribbon Commission to really analyze this thing that has really dropped into our lives.” 

CBS News: ‘It’s not going away’: Local psychologist weighs in on proposal to ban kids from social media: Whether fascinated by Facebook or taken with Twitter, kids could get the boot from social media. Republican Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri introduced a bill banning children under 16 years of age from using social media. Hawley says big tech companies are neglecting children’s health and monetizing their personal information. The U.S. Surgeon General says kids aged 13 and younger shouldn’t even be on social media. “This skewed, and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children,” said Dr. Vivek Murthy. 

NPR: 10 things to know about how social media affects teens’ brains: The statistics are sobering. In the past year, nearly 1 in 3 teen girls reports seriously considering suicide. One in 5 teens identifying as LGBTQ+ say they attempted suicide in that time. Between 2009 and 2019, depression rates doubled for all teens. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. The question is: Why now? “Our brains, our bodies, and our society have been evolving together to shape human development for millennia… Within the last twenty years, the advent of portable technology and social media platforms is changing what took 60,000 years to evolve,” Mitch Prinstein, the chief science officer at the American Psychological Association (APA), told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.  

AP: Ohio proposal: Get parents’ OK for kids to use social media: Ohio’s governor wants the state to require parental consent for kids under 16 to get new accounts on TikTok, Snapchat and other social media platforms. Republican Gov. Mike DeWine’s two-year budget proposal would create a law that social media companies must obtain a parent’s permission for children to sign up for social media and gaming apps. The proposal also names YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, but the proposal would apply broadly, to “any online web site, online service, online product, or online feature that requires consumer consent to register, sign up, or otherwise create a unique username.” 

CBS News:  LOCAL NEWS  Florida lawmakers mull HB 591, which aims to protect children from cyberbullying, sex trafficking: Florida lawmakers gathered Tuesday in Tallahassee to advocate for House Bill 591, legislation that aims to protect juveniles from falling victim to cyberbullying and sex trafficking. Citing a rise in the number of minors suffering from anxiety and depression, State Rep. Michele Rayner-Goolsby, Rep. Tyler Sirois and State Sen. Shevrin Jones sponsored the bill to protect the youth from online harassment. Jena McClure, a mother of three, said she supports the implementation of this bill after witnessing her children and their friends fall victim to bullying. She said it happens often to children everywhere. 

Roll Call: Social media companies put profits over children, senators say: Senators sounded off against social media platforms and called for action during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Tuesday, saying the companies lack accountability and are focused on profits at the expense of children.The hours-long hearing touched on an array of issues, including: the harms of cyberbullying, the scourge of child sexual abuse material on social media, and mental health issues among youth. It also underscored how there is bipartisan support for taking action on social media platforms — even in a narrowly divided Congress. 

Patch: Sexting Education Program Aims To Keep Chester Kids Digitally Safe: Online sexual extortion of minors is on the rise as technology becomes more prevalent in everyday life, and the Chester Police Department wants to remind parents of the online safety precautions they and their children should take to stay safe. Chester Police Detective Lieutenant Chris Cavanagh has partnered with the Chester School District to present a parent evening titled “Keeping your child safe from Child Exploitation – it all starts with the device” on Feb. 15, at 6:30 p.m., at the Black River Middle School. 

NBC News: How one teen is urging legislators in Washington state to help protect kids from being exploited on vlogs: A Washington state teenager is advocating for a bill to protect the privacy of the children of influencers. Chris McCarty, 18, a freshman at the University of Washington, said they wanted to advocate for children’s right to privacy online after having learned about influencer Myka Stauffer, who shared extensive, intimate content about her adopted son before she relinquished custody because of his medical needs. McCarty, who uses they/them pronouns, started the site Quit Clicking Kids to spread awareness and urge fellow advocates to take action in their own states. When they were a senior in high school last year, they cold-emailed multiple state legislators and eventually worked with state Rep. Emily Wicks to craft HB 2023, which was re-introduced as HB 1627 for this year’s legislative session. 

News Press Now: Drug dealers targeting kids through social media: A popular social media platform is facing lawsuits from families for its role as a tool for drug dealers to dispense fentanyl to young people. Families of more than 50 overdose victims have filed a lawsuit against Snapchat. According to the lawsuit, from 2020-2022, Snapchat was allegedly a conduit for more than 75% of the fentanyl poisoning deaths of teens between the ages of 13 to 18. Local experts expressed concern over social media being a wide-open platform for dealers because they can sell drugs to people from anywhere in the country. 

Journal News: Ohio governor seeks law requiring social media companies to get parental consent for kids’ accounts: Social media companies like TikTok and Facebook would be required to get verified parental consent before allowing a child under age 16 to have an account, according to a law proposed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in his new budget. 

The Columbus Dispatch: Ohio may require kids to get parental consent to use TikTok, Facebook, other social media: Ohio could soon make it easier for parents to restrict their children’s access to TikTok, Snapchat and other apps. Part of Gov. Mike DeWine’s two-year budget proposal would require social media companies to get parental consent before allowing kids under age 16 to use their platforms. They would be tasked with creating a splash page that verifies the user’s age and obtains the necessary consent from a parent or guardian. 

KGO-TV (Utah): Why expert says Utah’s social media ID verification bill could lead to nationwide privacy issues: What steps are you willing to take to use social media? Would you pay for the platform or agree to all terms and conditions? What if one of those conditions were to upload a copy of your government identification card? That’s exactly what could happen in the State of Utah with Senate Bill 152 – “the social media regulation act”. If passed, Utah residents will have to upload their ID to prove they are over the age of 18 to use all platforms. For those under 18, a parent ID is needed to verify the account.

WPCO-TV (Ohio): DeWine seeks law requiring social media companies to get parental consent for kids’ accounts: Social media companies like TikTok and Facebook would be required to get verified parental consent before allowing a child under age 16 to have an account, according to a law proposed by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in his new budget. “Social media companies are running platforms that are addicting our children, harming our children and we need more parental involvement,” said Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted, who is taking the lead on the effort and spoke about it during a Dayton visit on Wednesday.

WTVG-TV (Ohio): Ohio bill would require kids under 16 to have parental permission before joining social media: A new piece of legislation presented to the Ohio General Assembly last week would require kids aged 15 years old and younger to have parental permission before joining certain online platforms, it’s called the Social Media Notification Act. Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted is pushing for the proposal. “These tech companies have created these apps that are designed with algorithms to addict your children to these platforms and collect data on them. These platforms are not being used for virtuous reasons,” says the Lieutenant Governor. “They (parents) would be able to observe more things and they would know what exact platforms their children are on and see who their children are talking to and are connected to. They can see what kind of influences people can have on all their children, I think that would be really beneficial,” says Sarah Koralewski.

Bloomberg Law: California Bill to Let Parents Sue Social Media Gets Second Try: California lawmakers are attempting again to hold social media companies liable for addicting child users to their product, a renewed effort that will face fierce resistance from the tech industry. “This legislation is like throwing more fuel on the flames created by the legislature last session,” said Carl Szabo, vice president of NetChoice, which represents Meta, Google, and other tech companies. State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D) last week introduced SB 287, which would subject a company up to $250,000 per violation, an injunction, and litigation costs and attorney fees. Her bill is similar to widely watched state legislation last year that would have allowed the attorney general and local district attorneys to file civil suits against social media companies for knowingly putting in designs or algorithms that will addict kids.

American Academy of Pediatrics: Center of Excellence: Creating a Healthy Digital Ecosystem for Children and Youth: This National Center of Excellence will serve as a centralized, trusted source for evidence-based education and technical assistance to support the mental health of children and adolescents as they navigate social media. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Center of Excellence: Creating a Healthy Digital Ecosystem for Children and Youth is dedicated to promoting healthy social media use and pediatric mental wellbeing. Social media use starts during childhood and can play a significant role in the relationships and experiences that impact the growth, development and mental health of children and teens.

Dessert News (Utah): Op-ed: Teenage social media addictions — what parents don’t know and can’t track: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox “compared social media companies to pharmaceutical companies that make opioids” as reported in a recent Deseret News article. Children and teenagers spend less time with supportive groups and their families due to internet usage. Extensive social media usage is harming the younger generation. Social media companies were aware of this concern but did not share these details with the public. Children and teens consistently using social media are at greater risk for cyberbullying, online harassment, sexting and depression.

NBC News: Sen. Josh Hawley wants to create a legal age to be allowed on social media: Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., intends to make his focus in the current Congress a legislative package aimed at protecting children online — including by setting the age threshold to be on social media at 16. In an interview with NBC News, Hawley detailed some top lines of what his agenda will include, such as: Commissioning a wide-ranging congressional mental-health study on the impact social media has on children. For me, this is about protecting kids, protecting their mental health, protecting their safety,” Hawley said. “There’s ample evidence to this effect that big tech companies put their profits ahead of protecting kids online.”

Tech Crunch: TikTok is crushing YouTube in annual study of kids’ and teens’ app usage: For another year in a row, TikTok has found itself as the social app kids and teens are spending the most time using throughout the day, even outpacing YouTube. According to an ongoing annual review of kids’ and teens’ app usage and behavior globally, the younger demographic — minors ranging in ages from 4 through 18 — began to watch more TikTok than YouTube on an average daily basis starting in June 2020, and TikTok’s numbers have continued to grow ever since. In June 2020, TikTok overtook YouTube for the first time, with kids watching an average of 82 minutes per day on TikTok versus an average of 75 minutes per day on YouTube, according to new data from parental control software maker Qustodio.

KMO-TV: ‘It’s an addiction’: Parents, teens navigate self-esteem, safety of social media: The Parkway School District hosted a national speaker Monday night, helping parents better monitor their children’s social media usage, as teens turn to popular apps to communicate and share photos of their lives. The event features a conversation with Erin Walsh of the Spark and Stich Institute, and includes research in the fields of child and adolescent development along with digital media. “The research is pretty nuanced on this,” said Erin Schulte, Coordinator of Counseling and Character Education for Parkway Schools. “It would be nice it if was simple, like this is all bad, keep them away. But it’s not, it can be used for good things.”

KBTX-TV: Focus at Four: Experts say social media breaks are critical for mental well-being82% of the U.S. population currently uses social media.: Studies have shown that reducing social media use to just 30 minutes a day can lead to increased mental health and well-being. Experts say that excessive use of social media platforms is also found to have a much greater impact. “We’ve seen that social media use is associated with eating disorders, particularly in female adolescents,” said Dr. Pete Loper, a triple board-certified physician in pediatrics, psychiatry, and child psychiatry. “It’s associated with increased depression and anxiety. It is also associated with increased self-harm thoughts, particularly in our children, and adolescents.”

WLS-TV: Our Chicago: TikTok’s CEO to testify before Congress and how social media impacts kids’ wellbeing: More than two dozen states have now banned TikTok on government owned devices. It’s also now illegal for the app to be on any federal phone. All of this over concerns about data privacy, national security and there are on-going studies about the app’s impact on the mental well-being of young people. It was announced recently that TikTok’s CEO will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March. Illinois U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky sits on that committee, and said she’s “really looking forward to quizzing the CEO and getting more information.” “But, I certainly have my concerns,” Schakowsky said. “There’s no question that TikTok, which is used mostly by young people, which adds to the concern is doing the kind of surveillance and looking into the private information. Too much information is collected by these platforms and social media companies. But, we worry about TikTok because of the relationship with the Chinese government.”

The Salt Lake Tribune: Editorial: Social genies are out of the bottle, Editorial Board writes. Let’s prepare our kids to handle them: Childhood and adolescence have always been fraught with danger. Parents have been at their proverbial wit’s end since the primary hazard was a sabertooth tiger. These days, one such fright is “social media,” which can mean a lot of things but generally refers to platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and TikTok. Apps on smartphones that can take the human need to communicate and hype it into addictive brain candies that, at their worst, carry messages of bullying, body shaming and other darts that can lead to depression or even suicide. But it is just as true that, ever since Professor Harold Hill warned the good people of River City, Iowa, about their children frequenting pool halls and “memorizing jokes from Capt. Billy’s Whiz Bang,” whatever is new and scary about a culture provides an avenue for con men and well-meaning busybodies to offer protection for our little dears.

FOX 35 (Orlando): Proposed bill aims to restrict social media usage in Florida classrooms: A proposed house and senate bill is targeting the use of social media in schools. One of the bills would prevent the use of any social media in K through 12 schools if you are using their network. The bills would also require teachings on the good, bad and ugly sides of social media. “It’s digital fentanyl for our children,” said Florida’s Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis. Patronis feels social media is having an adverse effect on Florida’s youth. He supports SB 52 and HB 379 that their access to it in the classroom.

WOWT-TV (Nebraska): The FBI is warning parents tonight about an uprise in sextortion complaints.: The FBI has issued a new warning to Omaha parents after seeing an increase in reports of adults tricking children into sending explicit content through social media. Todd Dicaprio with the FBI is referring to it as “sextortion.” It is when an adult portrays himself as a minor to manipulate children through social media platforms to get them to send sexual pictures and videos to sell online. “We receive on average one to two referrals per week of a child who has been exploited some sexually-suggestive matter online,” Dicaprio said.

The New York Post: ‘Tranquilizer challenge’ ODs land 15 grade school students in hospital: Viral internet stunts continue to endanger the lives of young people: More than 15 students in Mexico forced to undergo treatment after overdosing on drugs as part of a dangerous online Clonazepam “tranquilizer challenge.” Viral internet stunts continue to endanger the lives of young people: More than 15 students in Mexico forced to undergo treatment after overdosing on drugs as part of a dangerous online Clonazepam

NBC News: Top Health Officials Urge Parents To Keep Kids and Teens Off Social Media Apps: “If you look at the guidelines from the platforms, at age 13 is when kids are technically allowed to use social media,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy. “I personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early.”  “Too young for social media” – that’s what health officials are saying for children ages 13 despite it being the standard age requirement for several social media platforms. 

Salon: 13-year-olds should not be on social media, surgeon general warns: As anyone who has either raised or been a teenager in the 21st century can tell you, social media is omnipresent in modern youth culture. Whether it is finding new music on TikTok or finding new friends on Fortnite, teenagers use social media to connect with their peers, express their individuality and participate in a global community. Yet this new technological and social paradigm brings with it grave concerns: social media spaces that youth frequent are rife with bullying, misinformation and bigotry, which can have a detrimental effect on the self-esteem of developing young minds.

The Washington Post: Analysis: A new bill would ban anyone under 16 from using social media: A growing number of U.S. policymakers and federal officials are angling to keep children and young teenagers off social media entirely, citing mounting concerns that the platforms may harm their well-being and mental health. It’s a notable escalation in the rhetoric around keeping kids safe online, which has largely focused on setting new digital protections. The push gained traction after the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN on Sunday that he believes 13 is “too early” for kids to be joining apps like Instagram and TikTok, which he said can create a “distorted environment” that “often does a disservice” to kids.

Good Morning America: Excessive screen time during infancy may be linked to lower cognitive skills later in childhood: The amount of time babies spend watching computer, TV and phone screens in their first year of life may be indirectly linked to lower cognitive skills later in life, according to a new study. Babies who watched on average two hours of screen time per day performed worse later on, at age 9, on executive functions, according to the study, which was published Monday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

NBC News: Sen. Dick Durbin urges DOJ to review Twitter’s handling of child exploitation: Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin urged Attorney General Merrick Garland in a letter Tuesday to review Twitter’s handling of child exploitation material, calling the Justice Department’s failure to address the issue “unacceptable.” “Sadly, Twitter has provided little confidence that it is adequately policing its platform to prevent the online sexual exploitation of children,” Durbin, D-Ill., wrote. “This puts children at serious risk.” The letter cites reporting from NBC News that found dozens of Twitter accounts and hundreds of tweets using numerous hashtags to promote the sale of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Some of the tweets were brazen in how they marketed the material, using common terms and abbreviations for CSAM. After the article was published, Twitter said that it was blocking access to several hashtags associated with the posts.

Chicago Tribune: After study finds social media may change pre-teens’ brain wiring, psychologist advises time limits, IRL activities: A new study showing a correlation between frequent checking of social media and neurological sensitivity to social cues in young people underscores the importance of in-person interactions —in other words, talking to people face-to-face instead of on a screen — and setting boundaries around technology and social media use, a pediatric psychologist at Advocate Children’s Hospital said. The study, which was published Jan. 3 in JAMA Pediatrics, tracked the brain activity of about 170 sixth through eighth graders who reported checking Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat at varying frequencies. It found that young people who checked social platforms more frequently had a higher “neural sensitivity to anticipation of social rewards and punishments.”

Denver 7 TV: Is keeping teens off social media unrealistic?: Even though 13-year-olds can sign up for accounts, whether they should is a different question. On Sunday, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy told CNN that he believes age 13 is too young to be on social media. University of Michigan data from 2021 indicate that many children have social media accounts before reaching 13. According to a survey conducted by the University of Michigan, 49% of parents of children ages 10-12 report their kids having social media accounts. With so many children online, Sarah Clark, a research scientist in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Michigan, questions whether it is realistic to ask parents to outright ban their children from social media. Instead, she encourages setting parameters to promote safe social media usage.

The Cleveland Clinic: Why Social Media Challenges Can Be a Recipe for Disaster — When They’re Real: It’s almost impossible to make it through childhood and adolescence without making questionable — and often downright foolish — decisions. Pushing boundaries and taking risks is part of growing up. We do the best we can to insulate our kids from risk, but they’re always finding new and innovative ways to get hurt. Social media definitely isn’t helping. It amplifies the power of peer pressure, and rewards dangerous risk-taking with likes, shares and empty promises of insta-fame. “It’s tricky because teens can get positive reinforcement with all the likes and views from the videos they post,” says pediatric emergency medicine specialist Purva Grover, MD. “So, the more risky or shocking, the greater the possibility that more people will see it.”

KSL-TV: Utah lawmakers want age restrictions on social media platforms: A Senate committee took the first steps toward regulating social media platforms in the state, advancing a bill that would require minors to get parental consent before signing up for social accounts. SB152 is one of several bills in the Utah Legislature aimed at tech giants this year, after Gov. Spencer Cox made social media regulation one of his top issues ahead of the legislative session. Earlier this month, Cox threatened to regulate social media companies due to the alleged harm to children and announced plans to sue major tech platforms last week. Cox’s brother-in-law, Sen. Mike McKell, R-Spanish Fork, is sponsoring the bill, which would require social media companies to use age verification to prevent minors from signing up without their parent’s permission and would prohibit companies from collecting or selling personal data of minors.

The Hill: Surgeon general: 13-year-olds too young to join social media: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Sunday cautioned that, despite many app guidelines, 13-year-olds are too young to join social media. “What is the right age for a child to start using social media? I worry that right now, if you look at the guidelines from the platforms, that age 13 is when kids are technically allowed to use social media. But there are two concerns I have about that. One is: I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early,” Murthy said on CNN’s “Newsroom.” Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and other top social media platforms allow users age 13 and older to join, create their own profiles and share and consume content.

Forbes: ‘We Can’t Look Away’: Documentary ANXIOUS NATION Explores The Rise In Anxiety In Children: Like adults, children feel worried from time to time. It’s normal. But when a child’s anxiety interferes with his or her school, home or social life, it’s time for professional help. The moving documentary, Anxious Nation, delves into the increased rates of anxiety among children and adolescents, and appeals for the urgent need for compassionate and science-based treatment and care. After attending a screening at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, I spoke with filmmakers and cast members about the mental illness epidemic among some of society’s most vulnerable individuals.

CNN: Children’s mental health tops list of parent worries, survey finds: Forty percent of US parents are “extremely” or “very” worried that their children will struggle with anxiety or depression at some point, a new survey finds. The Pew Research Center report said mental health was the greatest concern among parents, followed by bullying, which worries 35% of parents. These concerns trumped fears of kidnapping, dangers of drugs and alcohol, teen pregnancy and getting into trouble with the police. Concerns varied by race, ethnicity and income level, with roughly 4 in 10 Latino and low-income parents and 3 in 10 Black parents saying they are extremely or very worried that their children could be shot, compared with about 1 in 10 high-income or White parents.

Axios: Surgeon general: 13-year-olds too young to join social media platforms: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said on “CNN Newsroom” on Saturday he believes 13-year-olds are too young to join social media and that being on those platforms does a “disservice” to children. The big picture: Scientists have warned of a connection between heavy social media use and mental health issues in children, saying that the negatives outweigh the positives. Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter all allow users ages 13 or older on their platforms. TikTok users in the United States who are younger than 13 can use the platform, albeit with a safety setting for children that limits the information collected from them, as well as prevents them from messaging other users or allowing others to see their user profile.

CNN: Surgeon General says 13 is ‘too early’ to join social media: US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy says he believes 13 is too young for children to be on social media platforms, because although sites allow children of that age to join, kids are still “developing their identity.” Meta, Twitter, and a host of other social media giants currently allow 13-year-olds to join their platforms. “I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early … It’s a time where it’s really important for us to be thoughtful about what’s going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationships and the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children,” Murthy said on “CNN Newsroom.”

New York Post: Surgeon general warns 13 is too young for children to be on social media: Surgeon General Vivek Murthy warned that children join social media too early and believe they should only be allowed to access the platforms once they’re between 16 and 18. Platforms such as TikTok, Instagram and Twitter currently allow users to join as long as they are at least 13 years old. Murthy believes this can cause adolescents to have a “distorted’ sense of self during their crucial developmental years. “I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early,” Murthy said on CNN.

FOX 5 (Washington, D.C.) Parents push for Congress to address Snapchat drug dealers: Parents testified this week at a House hearing on Capitol Hill where they called on both Congress and tech companies to do more to fight the opioid crisis in this country. With the rise of overdoses involving children, lawsuits are now being filed against social media companies, such as Snapchat, for putting children in danger. Parents of some of these teens are putting increased pressure on lawmakers and these social media platforms to put better measures in place to stop online drug dealers from gaining access to kids.

NBC Chicago: Illinois School Warns Parents About App That Puts Students in Potential Stranger Danger: An Illinois school put out a warning to parents surrounding a social media app that school officials believe many students are using and could be putting them in dangerous situations with strangers. An Illinois school put out a warning to parents surrounding a social media app that school officials believe many students are using and could be putting them in dangerous situations with strangers. The free app, called Omegle, randomly pairs users with others from around the world to talk “one-on-one” anonymously. Users can add interests that will allow the app to pair them with someone who shares similar interests.

KLBK-TV (Texas): Republican congressman calls for nationwide social media ban for kids, teens: A Republican congressman says social media is so harmful for kids and teens that they should be banned from using it, just like kids aren’t allowed to drink or smoke. Congressman Chris Stewart says he hasn’t officially introduced his bill to ban social media for kids under 16 because he’s working on building up support behind the scenes first. “It’s destroyed their sense of self-worth, and their confidence and their sense of hope in the future,” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) said. Studies show social media leads to an elevated risk of depression and suicide as Stewart noted, “nearly a third of our young people age 14-24 have considered suicide and have discussed how they would commit suicide with a friend.”

Dessert News: Should children under 16 be denied access to social media apps?: Tweens and teens spend as much as nine hours a day scrolling through social media, gaming, online shopping, video chatting and texting on their cell phones. And an increasing amount of evidence suggests all that screen time is taking a toll on their mental health. “The statistics are clear we’ve got a generation of young people that are the most distressed, anxious, depressed and tragically suicidal than any generation in our history,” said Rep. Chris Stewart, who was recently named co-chairman of the bipartisan Mental Health Caucus in Congress. The rise in anxiety and depression, he says, can be almost directly correlated to when Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and began marketing initially to girls and then boys as young as 9. The Chinese app TikTok, he said, was designed as “emotional heroin” for young people.

WGN-TV (Chicago): Suburban man arrested for kidnapping 3 Ohio children, use of social media: A Beach Park man is facing charges for kidnapping three Ohio children after communicating with them through online platform for weeks. Michael Negron, 19, is being charged with a count of kidnapping and three counts of child endangerment, according to the lake County State’s Attorney’s Office. It is still unclear what the intentions of Negron were. According to police reports, a parent from Middleton, Ohio called the Lake County Sherrif’s Office Saturday afternoon about their missing children, a 12 and 14-year-old girl and their friend, a 15-year-old boy.

WANE-TV (Indiana): Deadly social media ‘blackout challenge’ resurfaces, more child deaths reported: The resurgence of a social media trend has become a nightmare for several families who have lost children to the “game,” with reports of more children dying. The “blackout challenge,” also known as the “choking game” or “pass-out challenge,” encourages users to choke themselves with belts, purse strings or other similar items until passing out. It dates back to at least 2008, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that 82 children across 31 states died from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s as a result. Most of the kids who died were between 11 and 16.

The Salt Lake Tribune: Why Utah Gov. Cox and AG Reyes plan to sue social media companies: Utah Gov. Spencer Cox, alongside Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, announced that the state would take legal actions against social media companies to address, they say, the harm that digital platforms are doing to the mental health of Utah’s youth. “Without strong action on our part, social media companies will simply not make the changes necessary to protect our children,” Cox said in a news conference on Monday. He alleged that social media apps are designed so that users won’t want to put them down. Neither Cox nor Reyes would specify which social media companies would be sued or what particular claims potential litigation would address. No lawsuits have been filed at this time.

PC Mag: The Most Toxic Online Platforms: Are Your Kids on Them?: Kids are now born into a world with social media, as well as a tangled web of images, games, users, and algorithms that make it nearly impossible for parents to know everything they’re doing. A new study(Opens in a new window) by ExpressVPN asked over 2,000 children in the US and the UK about the biggest issues they’re facing online and on which platforms. The top problems kids reported experiencing are somebody being rude or swearing at them (34%), seeing scary videos (31%), and seeing scary photos (26%). Their parents, roughly 2,000 surveyed adults, gave slightly different answers.

KUTV-TV: Utah parents support social media ban after video of child’s attack posted online: Kylee and Adam Taylor said their daughter was brutally attacked at her own Utah school twice, and in one instance, video of the assault made the rounds on Instagram and TikTok. Now, the Taylors strongly support Congressman Chris Stewart’s proposal for a federal ban on social media for children younger than 16. “Her lips were cut up, bruising on her face,” said Kylee, of her daughter’s injuries. “Both times she was checked for concussions.“ “She was punched kicked, grabbed her hair, threw her to the ground,” added Adam. “It’s traumatic, especially when you get the call and your daughter is crying.”

KUTV-TV: Utah lawmaker to introduce new bill on federal social media ban for teens under 16: Congressman Christ Stewart did not head to Washington to solve our nation’s mental health crisis, but it has become one of his areas of focus. Six months ago, Rep. Stewart’s bill designating 9-8-8 as the universal number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline was signed into law. It took two years to get the bill passed and the hotline ready for callers. The nations children and teens are his latest focus with a new bill set to be released next week. The bill seeks to ban children under the age of 16 from using social media sites like Facebook, TikTok and Instagram.

The Wall Street Journal: Op-ed: Republicans and Democrats, Unite Against Big Tech Abuses: The American tech industry is the most innovative in the world. I’m proud of what it has accomplished, and of the many talented, committed people who work in this industry every day. But like many Americans, I’m concerned about how some in the industry collect, share and exploit our most personal data, deepen extremism and polarization in our country, tilt our economy’s playing field, violate the civil rights of women and minorities, and even put our children at risk. As my administration works to address these challenges with the legal authority we have, I urge Democrats and Republicans to come together to pass strong bipartisan legislation to hold Big Tech accountable. The risks Big Tech poses for ordinary Americans are clear. Big Tech companies collect huge amounts of data on the things we buy, on the websites we visit, on the places we go and, most troubling of all, on our children. As I said last year in my State of the Union address, millions of young people are struggling with bullying, violence, trauma and mental health. We must hold social-media companies accountable for the experiment they are running on our children for profit.

FOX 5: VIDEO: Managing stress, anxiety, and screen time for children: Stress and anxiety can have negative impacts on your children physically, mentally, and emotionally. Plus, while social media can make people feel more connected, too much screen time can lead to health concerns like sleep or behavioral issues. Child psychologist Dr. Joseph McGuire with the Johns Hopkins Children Center, joined Fox 45 News with tips for parents to help their children navigate stress and anxiety while also managing screen time.

WHNT-TV: Deadly social media ‘Blackout Challenge’ resurfaces, nine children die: A social media trend has become a nightmare for several families after losing their children to the “game” – with at least nine children under the age of 14 dying for the dare of “how long can you hold your breath.” The “Blackout Challenge,” also known as the “Choking Game” or “Pass-Out Challenge,” dates back to at least 2008, when 82 children died trying to video themselves doing it. Most of the kids that died that year were between 11 and 16, spreading over 31 states. In 2021, the “challenge” resurfaced on TikTok, which led the viral video app to ban #BlackoutChallenge from its search engine. The social media giant is already facing a wrongful death lawsuit after a 10-year-old Italian girl was declared brain dead. She had allegedly tied a belt around her throat to self-asphyxiate.

Fortune: Is America overreacting to TikTok with all of its new bans at high schools and colleges? Probably not.: A growing number of public schools and colleges in the U.S. are moving to ban TikTok – the popular Chinese-owned social media app that allows users to share short videos. They are following the lead of the federal government and several states, that are banishing the social media app because authorities believe foreign governments – specifically China – could use the app to spy on Americans. The app is created by ByteDance, which is based in China and has ties to the Chinese government. The University of Oklahoma, Auburn University in Alabama and 26 public universities and colleges in Georgia have banned the app from campus Wi-Fi networks. Montana’s governor has asked the state’s university system to ban it.

Rice University: Three out of four parents say social media is a major distraction for students, according to new study: The vast majority of parents believe social media is a major distraction for students, according to a new nationwide study. The online study, conducted in November and December, surveyed a nationally representative sample of more than 10,000 parents of K-12 students. An overwhelming majority from across racial groups—African American (70%), Asian (72%), white (75%),  Hispanic/Latino (70%)—agreed that social media is a distraction. Parents of children who attend private schools (82%) were more likely to see social media as a distraction than parents of children in public schools (73%) or charter schools (73%) or those being homeschooled (67%). Interestingly, parents with children in high school (74%), middle school (73%) and elementary school (73%) were equally concerned about the issue.

WCIV-TV (South Carolina): School district warns parents on the possible dangers of social media: Monitoring social media starts at home. That’s the message Berkeley County School District is sending to their students’ parents. The Berkeley County School District’s Office of Security and Emergency Management has hosted several informational meetings on the possible dangers of social media. Parents learn they are the gatekeepers to their child’s electronic experience. “This is part of life. It’s not going anywhere. It’s here to stay,” said Cheretha Kinlaw-Hickman, Security and Emergency Management Officer with BCSD. “And if you’re going to use it, we just want to be responsible and safe in how we use these social media apps and being online in general.”

CBS News: New phone allows parents to see everything their kids do online: A company says it has a solution for parents giving phones to their children for the first time. It’s a custom-built Android device called Aqua One from the company Cyber Dive. The specially made phone gives parents the ability to track everything their kids do online. Using an app on their own phones, parents can track a mirrored version of their child’s phone. That means parents can see every text their child types, what videos they are watching and which social media apps they are using. Creator Jeff Gottfurcht says there are just too many apps out there that have become a danger to kids and Cyber Dive’s phone will allow parents and their kids to have an open dialogue about what’s safe and what’s not.

Chalkbeat: As Seattle schools sue social media companies, legal experts split on potential impact: A notable new lawsuit against social media industry leaders by the Seattle school district has left legal experts divided on how the case will unfold. The complaint — which alleges that the school district and its students have been harmed by social media’s negative effects on youth mental health — could lead to sweeping changes in the industry, one expert said. Or, as others expect, it could fizzle out with little chance of winning in court. Seattle Public Schools alleges that the companies — which include Meta, Google, Snapchat, and ByteDance, the company behind TikTok — designed their platforms intentionally to grow their user bases and “exploit the psychology and neurophysiology of their users into spending more and more time on their platforms,” according to a complaint filed earlier this month.

Roll Call: White House, House GOP take aim at Big Tech, but see different targets: President Joe Biden and Republican lawmakers last week launched yet another effort to confront thorny issues relating to Big Tech and social media platforms that have bedeviled previous administrations and Congress, but the path to progress this time around is just as murky. In two high-profile opening salvos of the 118th Congress, the two sides showed how far apart they are starting. Aside from a glimmer of overlap on protections for minors and the market power of the big tech companies, the two sides aren’t offering much promise of legislation. Biden used a Jan. 11 op-ed in The Wall Street Journal to call on Congress to pass federal data privacy legislation, especially to protect children, and prevent ads targeting them, modify U.S. law on social media content moderation policies, and change antitrust policy to bring more competition into the tech industry.

The Wall Street Journal: The U.K.’s Online Safety Bill aims to better protect adults and children from viewing certain online content.: British legislators are set to approve a draft of a extensive new social-media bill that could see the chief executives of major tech firms held criminally liable if they don’t protect children from certain content online. As the U.K. moves closer toward enacting new legislation that technology companies say is too restrictive, its Online Safety Bill aims to better protect adults and children from viewing certain online content, including fraud, revenge porn and sexual abuse. The proposed law, expected to win approval this week by the House of Commons, will force tech companies to remove content deemed illegal or content that is barred by their own terms and conditions, or face fines or legal action. The bill would then go to the U.K.’s upper chamber, the House of Lords, in February, where it could be revised further, and become law by year-end.

GeekWire: Audio: Seattle Schools vs. Social Media: What’s at stake in the suit against TikTok, Instagram, and others: As a tech reporter based in Seattle, that certainly got my attention, and I wasn’t alone. After GeekWire broke the story last weekend, it made national news. Here are some of the key points to know: Seattle Public Schools is suing the social media giants for damages stemming from what the suit describes as a youth mental health crisis in Seattle and across the country. That crisis, the suit alleges, has been caused by the deliberate actions of the companies in deploying algorithms designed “to maximize engagement by preying on the psychology of children.”

NPR: AUDIO INTERVIEW: Why 2 Seattle area school districts are suing 5 social media companies: The school districts allege that the companies’ practices have led to increased anxiety, depression, eating disorders and bullying among children.

Seattle Times: Opinion: Seattle schools take social media giants to court: Social media can often be more aptly characterized as antisocial media. Purveyors of conspiracy theories, misinformation, misogyny, white supremacy and antisemitism thrive in these supposedly sociable swaths of the Internet. Beyond toxic politics, social media has also become a 21st century venue for teenage bullies and bad boyfriends, mean girls and malicious rumors. The often fragile psyches of adolescents do not always fare well in this online toxic environment and many people blame social media for a big spike in cyberbullying, prolonged depression and suicide attempts among young Americans.

Ars Technica: Schools sue social networks, claim they “exploit neurophysiology” of kids’ brains: Seattle schools argue that defendants are not protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which says providers of interactive computer services cannot be treated as the publisher or speaker of information provided by third parties. Seattle schools are not claiming that the social networks are publishers, the lawsuit said. “Plaintiff is not alleging Defendants are liable for what third parties have said on Defendants’ platforms but, rather, for Defendants’ own conduct,” the lawsuit said. “As described above, Defendants affirmatively recommend and promote harmful content to youth, such as proanorexia and eating disorder content. Recommendation and promotion of damaging material is not a traditional editorial function and seeking to hold Defendants liable for these actions is not seeking to hold them liable as a publisher or speaker of third-party content.”

TODAY SHOW: Teens love the anonymous new Gas app: Here’s what parents should know: Teens can anonymously see who likes them, and more, on the hottest new social app for students.: There’s a new social media app captivating teens. Using the Gas app, users can anonymously compliment their friends (or secret crushes), and the app is gaining steam among young users. NBC News correspondent Savannah Sellers reports on TODAY that 1 in 3 teens are using the app and more than 1 billion compliments have been shared, according to Gas app founder Nikita Bier. So, how does it work? Gas app users can log on and compliment, or “gas up,” their friends. Users take a series of polls about their friends, with questions ranging from thoughtful to flirty. “You sign up, join your high school and or you sync your contacts, so we can find your friends,” Bier told Sellers. Bier says people have drawn comparisons to other anonymous apps that are plagued by bullying. “The distinction with Gas is that we author all the content so that you’re answering polls that are generally uplifting and positive, and that’s kind of the aim of the product,” Bier says.

ABC News: School district sues social media giants for ‘creating a youth mental health crisis’ Seattle Public Schools filed a lawsuit against Alphabet Inc., Meta Platforms, Inc., Snap Inc. and TikTok-owner ByteDance.: Seattle Public Schools, the largest school district in the state of Washington, filed a lawsuit Friday against multiple social media giants, in an effort to hold the companies “accountable for the harm they have wreaked on the social, emotional, and mental health of its students,” the district claimed. “It has become increasingly clear that many children are burdened by mental health challenges. Our students — and young people everywhere — face unprecedented, learning and life struggles that are amplified by the negative impacts of increased screen time, unfiltered content, and potentially addictive properties of social media,” Seattle Public Schools superintendent Brent Jones said in a statement. “We are confident and hopeful that this lawsuit is the first step toward reversing this trend for our students, children throughout Washington state, and the entire country.”

Axios: Social media’s effects on teen mental health comes into focus: Experts are increasingly warning of a connection between heavy social media use and mental health issues in children — a hot topic now driving major lawsuits against tech giants. Why it matters: Seattle Public Schools’ recently filed lawsuit against TikTok, Meta, Snap and others — which accuses the social media giants of contributing to a youth mental health crisis — is one of hundreds of similar cases. Driving the news: Some scientists who study technology’s effects on children say the negatives far outweigh any positives. “There is a substantial link to depression, and that link tends to be stronger among girls,” Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University and leading expert on the subject, tells Axios.

Axios: Podcast (Transcript): The escalating fight over Big Tech and kids: Seattle Public Schools filed a lawsuit accusing Big Tech of helping cause a youth mental health crisis. It’s going after TikTok, Meta, Snap and other companies in one of many cases that seek to hold social media platforms responsible for harm to children. Guests: Axios’ Ashley Gold, Sophia Cai and Andrew Freedman. NIALA: Good morning! Welcome to Axios Today! It’s Wednesday, January 11th. I’m Niala Boodhoo. Here’s what we’re covering today: more deaths in California as winter storms rage on. Plus, what we know about the classified documents found from Biden’s VP days. But first: the escalating fight over Big Tech and kids. That’s today’s One Big Thing.

The New York Times: Three-Quarters of Teenagers Have Seen Online Pornography by Age 17: Sexually explicit content has become so prevalent online that teenagers are deluged, according to a new report by a nonprofit child advocacy group.: The internet has transformed pornography, making it much easier to view and share than in the days of Playboy magazine and late-night cable television. For teenagers, that’s created a deluge of sexually explicit photos and videos that has invaded their everyday lives, according to a report released on Tuesday. Three-quarters of teenagers have viewed pornography online by the age of 17, with the average age of first exposure at age 12, according to the report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit child advocacy group. Teenagers are seeing the photos and videos on their smartphones, on their school devices and across social media, pornography sites and streaming sites, it said.

Reuters: Seattle public schools blame tech giants for social media harm in lawsuit: Seattle’s public school district filed a lawsuit against Big Tech claiming that the companies were responsible for a worsening mental health crisis among students and directly affected the schools’ ability to carry out their educational mission. The complaint, filed on Friday against Alphabet Inc, Meta Platforms Inc, and TikTok-owner ByteDance with the U.S. District Court, claimed they purposefully designed their products to hook young people to their platforms and were creating a mental health crisis. In emailed statements to Reuters, Google said it has invested heavily in creating safe experiences for children across its platforms and has introduced “strong protections and dedicated features to prioritize their well being,” while Snap said it works closely with many mental health organizations to provide in-app tools and resources for users and that the well-being of its community is its top priority. Meta Platforms and TikTok did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment. In the past, the companies have said they aim to create an enjoyable experience for users and exclude harmful content and invest in moderation and content controls.

AP: Seattle schools sue tech giants over social media harm: The public school district in Seattle has filed a novel lawsuit against the tech giants behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and Snapchat, seeking to hold them accountable for the mental health crisis among youth. Seattle Public Schools filed the lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court. The 91-page complaint says the social media companies have created a public nuisance by targeting their products to children. It blames them for worsening mental health and behavioral disorders including anxiety, depression, disordered eating and cyberbullying; making it more difficult to educate students; and forcing schools to take steps such as hiring additional mental health professionals, developing lesson plans about the effects of social media, and providing additional training to teachers.

Good Morning America (ABC News): Social media use linked to brain changes in teens, study finds: A new study has identified a possible link between frequently checking social media and brain changes that are associated with having less control of impulsive behaviors among young adolescents. Using MRI brain scans, researchers at the University of North Carolina found that teens who frequently checked social media were more likely to see increased activation in the regions of the brain that regulate reward centers and those that may play a role in regulating decision-making around social situations. The study, published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at nearly 200 young people in sixth and seventh grades.

WTVD-TV (North Carolina): VIDEO: Social media is changing how children’s brains develop, UNC researchers find: Researchers at the University of North Carolina released the results of one of the first ever long-term studies on child brain development and technology use. The study specifically looked at middle school students in North Carolina and the impact social media had on their brain development. Researchers said the evidence shows constant checking of a social media feed increased sensitivity to peer feedback. The 169 students underwent yearly brain imaging sessions over three years; that showed researchers that the children had become hypersensitive to feedback from their peers. The researchers published their results in JAMA Pediatrics. Ultimately, what this means for the future of social media and childhood development remains unclear. Even the authors of the study said the results are not necessarily good or bad.

The New York Times: Social Media Use Is Linked to Brain Changes in Teens, Research Finds: The effect of social media use on children is a fraught area of research, as parents and policymakers try to ascertain the results of a vast experiment already in full swing. Successive studies have added pieces to the puzzle, fleshing out the implications of a nearly constant stream of virtual interactions beginning in childhood. A new study by neuroscientists at the University of North Carolina tries something new, conducting successive brain scans of middle schoolers between the ages of 12 and 15, a period of especially rapid brain development.

The Hill: Study finds social media use may impact youth brain development: Advocates and parents have raised concerns about the potential health effects of social media on teens and children for years. A new study carried out in rural North Carolina shows habitually checking social media platforms may lead to long-term changes in adolescent brain development. Specifically, researchers found different social media checking habits were linked with changes in youths’ brains, altering how they respond to the outside world. Data suggest those who checked the sites and apps more than 15 times per day became hypersensitive to peer feedback.

Psychology Today: 5 Ways Parents Can Keep Kids Safe Online: The metaverse, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, ChatGPT; new technologies are coming in faster than a parent can say, “Put down that phone!” Rather than anguishing over what you may or may not know about these digital innovations, here are five easy ways to help keep your kids safe in 2023. 1. Stop focusing on “screen time.” Focus on “screen use” instead. During every presentation I gave last year, parents were laser-focused on one concern: “screen time.” I sincerely hope we move past this in 2023 because focusing on “time” rather than “use” disregards so many benefits of technology. For example, using a screen to do research or to say “hi” to Grandma is vastly different from doom-scrolling endless TikTok videos (although this might be “educational” too, but more on that in a moment). I don’t believe there is a parent on the planet who wants their child missing out on doing online research or visiting with a geographically-distant relative.

Patriot-News: Op-ed: Prioritize your family’s digital wellness this holiday season: The holiday season presents parents with unique challenges. From festive celebrations like office parties, holiday light displays, last-minute shopping trips, and concerts, most families’ schedules are jam-packed with activities right now. After navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic, the hectic pace of the current holiday season, is for many, a welcome return to normalcy. However, this time can also serve as a catalyst for stress. According to a Dec. 1 poll from the American Psychiatric Association, 31 percent of adults admitted that they expect to feel more stressed this holiday season than last year. When adults are stressed, family routines often fall by the wayside. As a father, I understand that adhering to structure can be very difficult this time of year, especially when children get extended time off from school for the holidays.

Forbes: VIDEO: Child Online Privacy Protections Cut From Congress’ Spending Bill— Despite Last-Minute Push: A pair of bills designed to strengthen online protections for children was left out of a fiscal year 2023 spending plan Congress is aiming to pass this week, despite heightened concerns about online privacy and an advocacy campaign by parents whose children’s deaths have been tied to Internet activity.

Huffington Post: How To Ask People Not To Share Photos Of Your Kids On Social Media: The digital record of a child born this century often begins before birth, when a parent shares a grainy sonogram image. By the time the child is old enough to open their own social media accounts, there may already be hundreds of images of them throughout cyberspace, searchable by name, geotag location and facial recognition technology. But an increasing number of parents are opting out of this “sharenting” norm of documenting all of their child’s milestones on social media. They may post no photos of their child at all or only photos in which their child’s face is not visible. Some parents block out their child’s face in group photos or make public requests that others not post images of their child.

Los Angeles Times: Column: Social media platforms must stop the exploitation of child performers. Now: YouTube has a major child labor problem. Just read Amy Kaufman and Jessica Gelt’s recent Times investigation into the lawsuit facing YouTube star Piper Rockelle and her mother, Tiffany Smith.Instagram and TikTok have child labor problems too, as do any social media platforms from which children (and their parents) derive income. As should be self-evident, when people make money on these platforms, “social” takes a backseat to “media.” When kids make money by producing content for a media company in California, they are — or should be — protected by the state’s laws, which mandate, among other things, limited hours, on-site education and a state-licensed teacher or social worker present on set at all times.

Newsweek: Op-ed: Teen Social Media Screen Time Should Concern Parents: Smartphones have always posed a range of challenges for parents of teens. From social media apps and excessive screen time to explicit content and mental health problems, the digital world often seems as threatening as the physical. A new Pew Research study shows that when it comes to teens and their smartphone use, parents might be worried too much about certain problems, and not worried enough about others. The study shows that about half (46 percent) of parents of teens are worried about their teen being exposed to explicit content online. This is a valid concern, of course. Adults know explicit content is ubiquitous online and can be damaging to see. But there are ways to mitigate the spread of explicit content, from changing the settings in their kids’ phone to preventing and monitoring such content with apps like Bark.

Press Release: Department of Justice – U.S. Attorney’s Office – Western District of Pennsylvania: The United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Pennsylvania, in partnership with Homeland Security Investigations – Philadelphia (HSI), the Federal Bureau of Investigation – Pittsburgh (FBI), and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), is issuing a public safety alert regarding an alarming increase in the online exploitation of children and teens.  Reports of the online enticement of minors have dramatically spiked in recent months—including reports of sextortion. 

CBS Evening News: When should you get your child a cellphone?: Cellphones are a popular gift during the holiday season, but the debate remains: What’s the best age for your child’s first phone? Craighton and Emily Berman are considering getting their 12-year-old son, Henry, a cellphone. He’s only allowed one hour of recreational screen time per day on the computer. “My wife and I have been kind of struggling with it,” Craighton Berman said. “Because there’s a lot packed into that phone. We all know digital technology and social media kind of destroys us. So I’m just trying to figure out how to destroy him a little less.”

PEW Research: Teens and Cyberbullying 2022: Nearly half of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online, with physical appearance being seen as a relatively common reason why: While bullying existed long before the internet, the rise of smartphones and social media has brought a new and more public arena into play for this aggressive behavior. Nearly half of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 (46%) report ever experiencing at least one of six cyberbullying behaviors asked about in a Pew Research Center survey conducted April 14-May 4, 2022. The most commonly reported behavior in this survey is name-calling, with 32% of teens saying they have been called an offensive name online or on their cellphone. Smaller shares say they have had false rumors spread about them online (22%) or have been sent explicit images they didn’t ask for (17%).

New York Post: My kids were digitally kidnapped — here’s how parents can be more careful: Mommy bloggers beware. Mother of two Meredith Steele, 35, is warning parents to stop sharing photos of their children online after her family was “digitally kidnapped.” The terrifying phenomenon occurs when a stranger steals a parent’s social media snaps to use on their own accounts and live out a fake life online. “My kids had new names and new identities,” Steele said of the ordeal. “They [the culprit] had made their own captions and made their own lives. It was like they were playing with Barbie dolls but the dolls were my kids. “This changed my mind about sharing my stuff online,” the Maine mama told South West News Service. “Mommy blog culture normalizes oversharing intimate personal details of your kids and they aren’t old enough to agree or disagree with it.”

NBC News: Democratic senator questions Twitter’s handling of child safety under Elon Musk: Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin, D-Ill., sent a letter to tech billionaire Elon Musk on Friday expressing concern that Twitter’s approach to child safety had “rapidly deteriorated” since Musk bought the social media site in October. The letter follows reports from several news outlets, including NBC News, about Musk’s eliminating the jobs of people at Twitter who worked to prevent child sexual exploitation and disbanding a board of outside experts who advised Twitter on its efforts to address exploitation. Durbin wrote that he was not convinced by Musk’s recent pledge that addressing child sexual exploitation content was “Priority #1.”

PEW Research: Explicit content, time-wasting are key social media worries for parents of U.S. teens: Parents have a range of concerns when it comes to their teenagers using social media, with access to explicit content and time-wasting ranking among those at the top of the list, according to a Pew Research Center survey of parents of teens ages 13 to 17 conducted this spring. The survey also shows that a majority of parents are keeping a watchful eye on what their teens do on social media. Some are also imposing screen time restrictions on these sites.A bar chart showing that parents are more likely to be concerned about their teen seeing explicit content on social media than these sites leading to anxiety, depression or lower self-esteem. While social media has allowed people to easily seek out information, some say it has also made inappropriate and explicit content more accessible. Nearly half of parents of teens (46%) say they are extremely or very worried that their teen’s use of social media could lead to them being exposed to explicit content, according to the April 14-May 4, 2022, poll.

The Hill: Governors in Iowa, North Dakota and Alabama join GOP colleagues in banning TikTok for state employees: The Republican governors of three more states have joined the growing number of GOP governors who are banning TikTok among state government employees amid security concerns about the Chinese-owned social media platform. Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds each signed executive orders in the past two days to ban the app from state-owned devices. Republican governors in Maryland, South Dakota, Texas and Utah have already taken action to ban TikTok for state employees’ devices.

The New York Times: Research finds more negative effects of screen time on kids, including higher risk of OCD: A new study suggests that reliance on devices may hinder children’s ability to learn to regulate their emotions. Another linked video game use to a risk of obsessive-compulsive disorder.: Two new studies show associations between screen time and behavioral and psychological risks for children, adding to a growing body of evidence that excessive use of smartphones and other devices can be deleterious to their health. In one study, researchers reported a link between screen time and higher rates of obsessive-compulsive disorder diagnoses among preteens. In the other, the results suggested that using electronic devices to calm youngsters when they’re upset may inhibit their ability to learn to soothe themselves, leading to more frequent, intense emotional outbursts.

The New York Times: How to Use Parental Controls on Your Child’s New Phone: The holiday season is here, and if you’ve decided to give in and get your child a smartphone or tablet, you may be nervous about safety, supervision and screen time. Software can’t solve everything, but it can help. Here are a few of the tools available to help parents or caregivers guide children’s first solo steps into the digital age. First, Set the Rules.

CBS News (Minnesota): What are the concerns about using TikTok? Should parents tell their kids to delete it?: A popular app for entertainment and news is now banned on government devices in Maryland, Nebraska, South Carolina, South Dakota and Texas. Public employees in those five states can’t have TikTok on their work phones, computers or tablets. The reason is for security concerns, given TikTok’s owner – ByteDance – is a Chinese company. The FBI is also sounding the alarm about the social media platform. Aynne Kokas, an author and the director of the University of Virginia East Asia Center, broke down some of the concerns. “The first is the type of data that TikTok, as an app, is able to gather about our usage of the technologies,” Kokas said.

60 Minutes (CBS News): VIDEO: More than 1,200 families suing social media companies over kids’ mental health: When whistleblower Frances Haugen pulled back the curtain on Facebook last fall, thousands of pages of internal documents showed troubling signs that the social media giant knew its platforms could be negatively impacting youth and were doing little to effectively change it. With around 21 million American adolescents on social media, parents took note. Today, there are more than 1,200 families pursuing lawsuits against social media companies including TikTok, Snapchat, YouTube, Roblox and Meta, the parent company to Instagram and Facebook. More than 150 lawsuits will be moving forward next year. Tonight, you’ll hear from some of the families suing social media. We want to warn you that some of the content in this story is alarming, but we thought it was important to include because parents say the posts impacted their kids’ mental health and, in some cases, helped lead to the death of their children.

60 Minutes (CBS News): Meet the teens lobbying to regulate social media: When Emma Lembke was a 12-year-old 6th grader, she was excited to join the world of social media. Here was a way to connect instantly to millions of people around the globe from her home in Birmingham, Alabama, she thought. Lembke was eager to express herself through an online persona and explore new information that she otherwise would not have access to. She first signed up for Instagram, and in the first week, she followed Oprah and the Olive Garden.

Forbes: Twitter Has Cut Its Team That Monitors Child Sexual Abuse: Even as Elon Musk has said that removing child sexual exploitation content from Twitter was “Priority #1,” the teams charged with monitoring for, and subsequently removing such content have been reduced considerably since the tech entrepreneur took control of the social media platform. Bloomberg reported last month that there are now fewer than 10 people whose job it is to track such content – down from 20 at the start of the year. Even more worrisome is that the Asia-Pacific division has just one full-time employee who is responsible for removing child sexual abuse material from Twitter.

The Washington Post: Indiana sues TikTok, claiming it exposes children to harmful content: Indiana’s attorney general sued TikTok on Wednesday, claiming the Chinese-owned company exposes minors to inappropriate content and makes user data accessible to China, in one of the strongest moves against the social media giant taken by a state. Indiana’s lawsuit is the latest move to put TikTok and its parent company under scrutiny. As U.S. officials have sought to regulate TikTok, the platform in recent years has come under sharp questioning in Washington and been under investigation by a bipartisan group of attorneys general for its potential effects on youth mental health, its data security and its ties to China.

Forbes: Amazon Alexa Wants To Put Your Child To Bed With Generative AI Storytelling: While researchers applaud Amazon’s safeguards to ensure the tech is safe for kids, some experts are concerned that generative AI could lead children to believe these algorithms are more intelligent than they actually are. Generative AI, which is known for churning out fantastical art based on text prompts, is now sneaking into one of the most sacred bonding experiences for parents and children: bedtime storytelling.

CNBC: Op-ed: I raised 2 successful CEOs and a doctor. Here’s the No. 1 skill I wish more parents taught their kids today: Parenting expert: The No. 1 thing every parent should teach their kids. Developing skills like curiosity, kindness and emotional intelligence at a young age will help kids succeed as adults. But there’s one skill that parents aren’t teaching their kids enough of today: self-regulation. When kids learn to self-regulate, they better understand the importance of time and how to manage their own behaviors and actions. 1. Model a healthy relationship with technology.Think of the last time you were eating lunch while typing an email while listening to a podcast and checking your phone each time it dinged. We’ve all been there.

Los Angeles Times: How parents can help protect children from online catfishing and other digital dangers: The family of the Riverside teen girl who was tricked into a digital romance with a “catfishing” cop from Virginia want their devastating story to be a cautionary tale. “In this tragic moment of our family, our grief, we hope some good will come from this,” Michelle Blandin, the teen’s aunt, said this week. “Parents, please, please know your child’s online activity. Ask questions about what they’re doing and whom they are talking to; anybody can say they’re someone else.” Such incidents are too common, say experts who hope this one will serve as a reminder to parents about having important conversations early and often with children about online conduct. That is the best way, they say, to protect youth from the many dangers that can lurk on the internet, from both known and unknown predators, cyberbullying, sexual exploitation and other concerns. When should parents start talking about online safety?

Forbes: Our Kids’ Brains Hurt From Using Technology: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends less than two hours of entertainment screen time per day for children and discourages the use of any screen media by children under two years of age. The psychology research bucket has been overflowing the last few years with indictments of technology and its deleterious impact on our mental and emotional well-being. Brain research and mental health studies are dovetailing on the conclusion that screen time—particularly social media use—is stressing our brains, specifically the engine of computation and mental functioning: the prefrontal cortex.

The Hill: Three things Congress should do now to protect kids and teens: In this April 9, 2020, photo, Lila Nelson watches as her son, sixth-grader Jayden Amacker, watches an online class at their home in San Francisco. The pandemic increased the amount of time kids and teens spend online, but some worry about the effects of media and technology on their outlook. With the start of the lame-duck session, Congress has a long to-do list in a short period of time. Among the important items that need immediate attention, Congress should not go home without making the internet a safer and healthier place for kids and teens. To their credit, committees in both the House and the Senate have dedicated time and energy to online privacy, health and safety over the past two years. There have been hearings and bipartisan markups, and the 117th Congress has gotten closer to passing comprehensive privacy legislation than any other. Still, Congress appears stuck when it comes to establishing guardrails for social media platforms.

NBC News: Ex-Virginia trooper dies in shootout after killing family of teen he had catfished, police say: A Virginia law enforcement employee was killed in a shootout with deputies in California after he allegedly killed the mother and grandparents of a teenage girl he had catfished online, police said Sunday. Austin Lee Edwards, a former trooper with the Virginia State Police who was working for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, was accused of driving off with the girl after the killings in the Southern California city of Riverside on Friday, police said. It wasn’t clear if Edwards, 28, was a sworn officer when he allegedly killed 69-year-old Mark Winek; his wife, 65-year-old Sharie Winek; and their daughter, 38-year-old Brooke Winek. Washington County Sheriff Blake Andis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Pew Research Center: Connection, Creativity and Drama: Teen Life on Social Media in 2022: Society has long fretted about technology’s impact on youth. But unlike radio and television, the hyperconnected nature of social media has led to new anxieties, including worries that these platforms may be negatively impacting teenagers’ mental health. Just this year, the White House announced plans to combat potential harms teens may face when using social media.

The New York Times: Children’s Groups Want F.T.C. to Ban ‘Unfair’ Online Manipulation of Kids: My Talking Tom, an animated video game featuring a pet cat, is one of the most popular apps for young children. To advance through the game, youngsters must care for a wide-eyed virtual cat, earning points for each task they complete. The app, which has been downloaded more than a billion times from the Google Play Store, also bombards children with marketing. It is crowded with ads, constantly offers players extra points in exchange for viewing ads and encourages them to buy virtual game accessories.

Axios: Kids’ privacy online gets yearend push in Congress: Lawmakers from both parties who back stricter rules for handling kids’ data and accounts online see an opening in the last lame-duck weeks of this Congress. Why it matters: Passing a national online consumer privacy bill continues to be out of Congress’ reach, but protecting young people online has been one of the few areas in recent decades where Congress has been able to pass new tech regulations. Driving the news: The two laws best positioned to get rolled into big year-end legislative packages, according to advocates and lawmakers, are:

Forbes Health: Dear Pediatrician: What Is The Best Age For A Child’s First Smartphone?: Dear Pediatrician, My middle schooler really wants a smartphone, but I’m not so sure. He says that most of the kids in his class already have a phone, and he feels left out. I’m worried about him spending too much time on the phone. Plus, I’ve heard scary stories about kids sending inappropriate messages to one another. Is there a best age to give your child a smartphone? Dear Worried, Adding a smartphone to your child’s experience of the world is a big step. Having a supportive and thoughtful parent by their side increases their smartphone success. I commend you for thinking critically about when to introduce this tool to your child.

The Washington Post: Their kids’ deaths were tied to social media. They want Congress to act: Happy Wednesday! We’d like to tip our hats to the incredible team of journalists at Protocol, who delivered tons of insightful and dogged policy reporting in recent years. Below: Elon Musk delays the relaunch of Twitter Blue, and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray discusses his concerns about TikTok. Below: Their kids’ deaths were tied to social media. They want Congress to act. Maurine Molak says her son David, then 16, took his own life after facing months of cyberbullying on social media platforms, which were slow to respond to their reports. “He could not make it stop. I couldn’t make it stop,” she said during an interview Tuesday.

Boston Globe: Teens and young adults are self-diagnosing mental illness on TikTok. What could go wrong?: Does Carly Smith have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder? She was tested as a child and the answer came back a definitive no. But this summer — battling anxiety and struggling to focus while working remotely in her Watertown apartment — she yearned for an explanation, and turned to a hot source of mental health info for teens and young adults: TikTok. There, Smith, 24, a junior account executive at a PR firm, found an ADHD influencer named Katie Sue, an appealing young woman with a big smile, a lot of what felt like answers, and — on her website — a link to make a donation.

FOX 59 (Indianapolis): Woman’s warning after online exploitation: A 19-year-old Indiana woman is recounting her traumatic experience of being sexually exploited as a child. The woman, who asked us to conceal her identity, was a victim of sextortion. She said she was just 12 years old when what seemed like innocent attention from strangers took a dark turn on the online chatting site Omegle. “They would just be like hey, how’s your day?” she explained. “Then after that, it would be straight to ‘what are you wearing?” As with most sextortion cases, it progressed from talking to pictures to video chats. Oftentimes, they started the chat by showing their privates. She said she couldn’t tell how old some of them were, but estimates a lot of the men were in their 30s to 50s.

CNN Business: A guide to parental controls on social media: A little over a year ago, social media companies were put on notice for how they protect, or fail to protect, their youngest users. In a series of congressional hearings, executives from Facebook (FB), TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram faced tough questions from lawmakers over how their platforms can lead younger users to harmful content, damage mental health and body image (particularly among teenage girls), and lacked sufficient parental controls and safeguards to protect teens.

Forbes: Protecting Our Children In Cyberspace: What Are We Missing?: With final election results rolling in, one of the less talked about, yet a vitally crucial issue, is the safety and wellbeing of the children in America –U.S. citizens without voting rights, whose voice is too often lost when it’s time to count the ballots. But that should not be the case. The last couple of months have been bustling with activity on the technology regulation front, with particular attention devoted to the protection of children in cyberspace. It started with the White House formally announcing its expansive federal tech policy reform, emphasizing the protection of young users. The US Supreme Court followed suit, when last month it granted certiorari in Gonzalez v. Google, a high-stakes case appealed from the Ninth Circuit about the scope of protection Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives tech companies against liability for the content on their platforms.

Sky News (UK/Britain): Instagram age verification: Social media giant to use automated analysis of video selfies to allow some UK users to ‘prove their age’: From today, anyone who tries to edit their date of birth by changing it from under the age of 18 to over 18 will have to verify it by providing ID or a video selfie that will use age estimation technology.: Users of Instagram in the UK or EU will from now on see new age verification tools on the platform as part of a major safety update to protect children. From today, anyone who tries to edit their date of birth by changing it from under the age of 18 to over 18 will have to verify their age through ID or a video selfie, which will be examined by independent age estimation technology. Instagram said the new update would help ensure an age-appropriate experience for its users. Cyber safety campaigners have long been advocating for greater child protection, particularly after the Molly Russell inquest, which concluded last month that the 14-year-old girl died from an act of self-harm after being exposed to the “negative effects of online content”.

PEW Research: California’s New Child Privacy Law Could Become National Standard: A new California privacy law might fundamentally change how kids and teens use the internet — not only in California but also across the country. The first-in-the-nation legislation, which goes into effect in 2024, imposes sweeping restrictions on internet companies that serve minors, requiring that they design their platforms with children’s “well-being” in mind and barring eight common data-collection practices. Supporters of the bipartisan measure — including a range of privacy, consumer and children’s advocates — have compared it to longstanding consumer safety protections, such as seatbelts and nutrition labels. New York, Washington and West Virginia also have weighed child privacy bills, and Congress considered four such bills last year. While the Washington and West Virginia bills died in committee, the New York, Pennsylvania and federal bills remain under consideration.vvvv

The Hill: Advocates urge committee to advance Kids Online Safety Act: A joint letter sent by online children safety advocates urges Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to advance the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA). The letter was organized by Fairplay, ParentsTogether and the Eating Disorders Coalition, and received more than 100 signatures of organizations and individuals concerned about the harmful impacts of social media on kids and teenagers. KOSA was first introduced in February 2022 and is sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and 11 others.  In the letter, advocates call on Cantwell to “publicly commit to moving KOSA, (S.3663) as part of the omnibus spending bill before the end of the current session,” and requests she take time to talk to parents about the issue.

NBC News: Their children went viral. Now they wish they could wipe them from the internet: During the early months of the pandemic, Kodye Elyse started posting what she described as “normal mom quarantine content” on TikTok. Kodye Elyse, a cosmetic tattoo artist, said she “really wasn’t on social media” before then so she barely had any followers. Since her videos weren’t getting many views, she felt it “wasn’t a big deal” to have a public account to showcase their family life during lockdown, with many of the videos featuring her and her daughters dancing around the house. But the overwhelming response to one of Kodye Elyse’s first viral videos “convinced” her to take her kids offline entirely. The video started with Kodye’s then 5-year-old daughter. She then swapped places with Kodye Elyse to the beat of the music, and with a clever edit, appeared to transform into her mother.

The Dessert News (Utah): Op-ed: More tech, less teen happiness: the link between depression and tech use is especially troubling for children in nontraditional families, our new study found: Our teens are in crisis. The share of American high school students reporting “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” has increased to nearly half of youth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That troubling news came on the heels of a report from Harvard’s Human Flourishing Program that the well-being of young adults has dramatically declined compared to older age groups. A host of factors are driving our kids to despair, from decreased social connection to increased worries about the future of the planet.

Newsweek: Op-ed: We Need Parents and Policy to Save Our Kids from Big Tech: It is now firmly established that social media are ruining the minds and bodies of America’s children. Facebook’s own internal studies find that among teens, especially teen girls, the company’s products lead to “increases in the rate of anxiety and depression.” Social media are designed to be addictive. Heavy use leads to sleep disorders, body dysmorphia, and suicidal thoughts. This should be enough reason for a sane society to stop, think, and change course. They are kids, after all, who deserve peace of mind and time with their loved ones undisturbed by digital encroachments. But we live in a technological age, in which the imperatives of Silicon Valley are given precedence over everything, including the well being of children. So instead of sending our kids a life raft, we are packing their bags for the Metaverse, where their minds will be beyond reach.

Lancaster Online: LTE: Social media affects everyone’s well-being: (Written by Savannah Ginder, student at Conestoga Valley High School): I just felt happier.” That’s what my friend said about giving up social media for a week. Instead of scrolling, she listened to podcasts, colored and went on walks. My teacher had a similar experience after she decided to get rid of TikTok. Social media can affect your well-being by creating a negative environment that leads to illnesses such as depression and anxiety. “The platforms are designed to be addictive and are associated with anxiety, depression, and even physical ailments,” states a report on the website of McLean Hospital, a leading psychiatric hospital in Massachusetts. No wonder both my friend and my teacher felt better after giving up social media.

Forbes: FDA: Here Are Dangers Of NyQuil Chicken And Benadryl Challenges On Social Media: If you are thinking about cooking your chicken in NyQuil, don’t. Just don’t. The same goes for trying to swallow enough Benadryl so that you can start hallucinating. These are not good ideas, no matter what someone on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Face-meta, Meta-Face, or whatever your social media of choice may be called. But apparently enough people have been doing such things that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has felt the need to issue a warning about the dangers of doing such things.

Forbes: The Latest Attempt To Address The Online Data And Privacy Crisis: Some crises strike companies quickly, are addressed by corporate executives, and soon fade from the spotlight. Other crises capture the public’s attention but are eventually placed on the back burner, unresolved. But they can get moved to the front at any time. Consider the case of the online data and privacy crisis, which made international headlines a year ago when whistleblower Frances Haugen told Congress that Facebook and Instagram negatively impacted the mental health of teenagers. Not surprisingly, there were several rounds of accusations and finger-pointing over who was to blame for the crisis, the extent of the impact of social media on mental health, and what had or should be done about it.

ABC 27: VIDEO: Pennsylvania bill would require porn filter on children’s devices: A bill introduced in the Pennsylvania State House would require a filter on children’s mobile devices to prevent access to pornography. The bill introduced by Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair) would require cellular carriers to switch on filters for new smartphones and tablets activated in Pennsylvania. Gregory says the bill “mirrors” legislation signed in Utah, which doesn’t go into effect until multiple states enact similar legislation. The American Civil Liberties Union of Utah argued the constitutionality of the Utah bill was not adequately considered and that it will likely be argued in court. Gregory argues that Pennsylvania should follow several other states that have proposed similar legislation.

Time Magazine: Social Media Has Made Teen Friendships More Stressful: Public health data signals a genuine crisis in adolescent mental health: rising rates of anxiety, depression, and hopelessness. But as we worry about tweens and teens who are struggling, we can’t ignore another mounting toll—the burdens that are shouldered by their friends and peers in an “always on” world. We have studied teens and tech for over a decade. Still, what we learned in our most recent study stopped us in our tracks. We collected perspectives from more than 3,500 teens on the best and trickiest parts of growing up in a networked world, and we co-interpreted these perspectives alongside other teens who helped us make sense of what we were hearing.

Axios: Why social media companies moderate users’ posts: Facebook, Twitter and other online services set rules for users’ posts not just to flag individual statements, but more broadly, to ensure they’re complying with the law, to help define their businesses and to protect their users. Driving the news: Public debate over online speech peaked again with Kanye West’s ban from Twitter and Elon Musk’s willingness to bring Donald Trump back to that service if he becomes its owner. But public understanding of why social networks moderate content remains murky. Obeying the law: Social media networks have to follow local laws like everyone else.

CBS 21: Talking to your child about dangerous internet trends like ‘one chip challenge’: October is Cyber Security Awareness Month, so there’s no better time to shine a light on a shocking internet trend Harrisburg School District just banned for putting kids in the hospital. The “One Chip Challenge” is making its rounds on social media, particularly on TikTok. It’s been around for a few years, but people are having serious reactions to the 2022 edition of the chip. You can buy the chip at a convenience store or find it online. It costs a whopping $9. People eat a single spicy chip and wait as long as they can to eat or drink anything else. Then, they post the video of the challenge on social media.

The Washington Post: ‘Responsible social media’ council looks to bridge divides on tech: The Biden administration announces a proposal affecting gig workers, and Meta’s metaverse pitch for businesses faces some challenges. First: ‘Responsible social media’ council looks to bridge divides on tech. Public officials in Washington for years have sparred along partisan lines over whether social media platforms take down too much or too little hate speech and misinformation. A council launching this week aims to sidestep those disputes by proposing reforms that tackle issues of bipartisan concern, including children’s safety and national security.

AP: White House unveils artificial intelligence ‘Bill of Rights’: The Biden administration unveiled a set of far-reaching goals Tuesday aimed at averting harms caused by the rise of artificial intelligence systems, including guidelines for how to protect people’s personal data and limit surveillance. The Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights notably does not set out specific enforcement actions, but instead is intended as a White House call to action for the U.S. government to safeguard digital and civil rights in an AI-fueled world, officials said. “This is the Biden-Harris administration really saying that we need to work together, not only just across government but across all sectors, to really put equity at the center and civil rights at the center of the ways that we make and use and govern technologies,” said Alondra Nelson, deputy director for science and society at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “We can and should expect better and demand better from our technologies.”

New York Post: ‘School photo’ social media trend could leave kids vulnerable to predators: Police: As students adjust to returning to school this fall, law enforcement members and online safety experts are reminding parents to be cautious about the information they share on social media. It may give predators access to children and scammers access to personal information. “We’re not saying not to share,” Deputy Sheriff Tim Creighton of the McHenry County Sheriff’s Office in Woodstock, Illinois, recently told Fox News Digital.  “I have people to this day on my feeds. They are sharing way too much information.” “Less is better,” he said. “Your close friends and family know the important details about your kids, such as the town they live in, the school they go to, their full name. Strangers don’t need to know that.”

The Hill: Why ‘sharenting’ is sparking real fears about children’s privacy: For parents, grandparents and caregivers, snapping a photo of their child and sharing it on social media may seem like a routine, harmless act. After all, being proud of your child and wanting to share that pride with loved ones is a completely normal and largely universal feeling. Unfortunately, this seemingly simple decision — to post a photo, video, or any other information about a child under 18 on social media or the internet in general — comes with a host of ethical and legal considerations, despite the innocent intention behind the action. “Sharenting,” or parents sharing their child’s likeness or personal information on the internet, has grown in popularity alongside the advent of smartphones and social media. And this practice shines a light on the murky realm of children’s consent, digital data collection, targeted advertising, and real-world dangers resulting from parents’ online activities.

WXYZ-TV: Detroit mother sues Instagram for negatively affecting her 13-year-old child: A 2018 Pew Research Study found that 45% of teenagers are online almost constantly. 97% use a social media platform. A Johns Hopkins University study from 2019 shows that 12 to 15-year-olds in the U.S. who spend more than three hours a day on social media are likely to have a heightened risk for mental health problems. Now, a Detroit mother of a 13-year-old is suing Instagram and its parent company Meta claiming it had horrible effects on her daughter. The plaintiff, known as L.H., had been on Instagram since the age of 11 and was a “heavy user” according to a 123-page federal complaint.

The Hill: California passes bill requiring social media companies to consider children’s mental health: California’s legislature has passed legislation that will require social media companies to consider the physical and mental health of minors who use their platforms. Senate Bill AB 2273 passed in the state’s Senate chamber in a 75-0 vote on Tuesday. The proposed legislation is headed to the desk of California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), though it is unclear whether Newsom will sign the legislation into law, The Wall Street Journal reported. The California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, which was first introduced by state representatives Buffy Wicks (D), Jordan Cunningham (R) and Cottie Petrie-Norris (D), will “require a business that provides an online service, product, or feature likely to be accessed by children to comply with specified requirements.”

The New York Times: An Apple Watch for Your 5-Year-Old? More Parents Say Yes.: Florian Fangohr waffled for about a year over whether to buy an Apple Watch SE as a gift. The smart watch cost $279, and he worried that its recipient would immediately break or lose it. In May, he decided the benefits outweighed the costs and bought the gadget. The beneficiary: his 8-year-old son, Felix. Mr. Fangohr, a 47-year-old product designer in Seattle, said he was aware that many people were pessimistic about technology’s creep into children’s lives. But “within the framework of the watch, I don’t feel scared,” he said. “I want him to explore.” Felix, a rising third grader, said he actually wanted a smartphone. “But the watch is still really, really nice,” he said.

The New York Times: Sweeping Children’s Online Safety Bill Is Passed in California: Social media and game platforms often use recommendation algorithms, find-a-friend tools, smartphone notices and other enticements to keep people glued online. But the same techniques may pose risks to scores of children who have flocked to online services that were not specifically designed for them. Now California lawmakers have passed the first statute in the nation requiring apps and sites to install guardrails for users under 18. The new rules would compel many online services to curb the risks that certain popular features — like allowing strangers to message one another — may pose to child users. The bill, the California Age-Appropriate Design Code Act, could herald a shift in the way lawmakers regulate the tech industry. Rather than wade into heated political battles over online content, the legislation takes a practical, product-safety approach. It aims to hold online services to the same kinds of basic safety standards as the automobile industry — essentially requiring apps and sites to install the digital equivalent of seatbelts and airbags for younger users. “The digital ecosystem is not safe by default for children,” said Buffy Wicks, a Democrat in the State Assembly who co-sponsored the bill with a Republican colleague, Jordan Cunningham. “We think the Kids’ Code, as we call it, would make tech safer for children by essentially requiring these companies to better protect them.”

ABC News: What parents should know before sharing back-to-school photos online: Katy Rose Prichard, a popular mom influencer on social media, speaks out about how images of children’s faces can be used in ways you never imagined. It’s become a cherished tradition among parents every August and September: sharing back-to-school photos on social media with family members and friends as a new school year kicks off. The trend has been a mainstay on social media, with parents posting pictures of their kids holding signs that showcase details like their child’s age, grade, school, teacher or afterschool activities, and the photos are an easy way to keep loved ones updated. But although it may seem harmless, privacy and security experts say parents and caregivers need to be aware of the inherent risks of sharing pictures and identifiable information online.

CNBC: Randi Zuckerberg says she’s a ‘big proponent of the real world’ when it comes to parenting: Randi Zuckerberg says she’s a “big proponent of the real world” — especially when it comes to protecting children from technology. Speaking at the Credit Suisse Global Supertrends Conference in Singapore earlier this month, Randi Zuckerberg, who is founder and CEO of Zuckerberg Media, discussed worries among many that the metaverse will take children further away from reality. 

Los Angeles Times: Op-Ed: California’s fight for a safer internet isn’t over: This month, a bill to regulate social media services for children was rejected by California’s Senate Appropriations Committee without explanation. The proposed legislation, sponsored by Assembly members Jordan Cunningham (R-Paso Robles) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) and called the Social Media Platform Duty to Children Act, would have allowed the state attorney general and local prosecutors to sue social media companies for knowingly incorporating features into their products that addicted children. The powerful tech industry lobbied for months to defeat the bill.

WLWT (Ohio): Experts share warning for parents about back-to-school social media posts: A warning for parents, as back-to-school social media posts could be putting your child at risk. Experts say some parents are posting too much personal information with their child’s back-to-school pictures. “I’m on Facebook, so I definitely see all the postings that are going on right now,” parent Selena Ramanayake said. “They actually have their school name on there, and age, and all this, and so sometimes I kind of have that, I don’t know, hesitation about should you be posting all that,” she said. Ramanayake is talking about popular social media posts of children holding signs that read details about their lives and school information.

The New York Times: LTE’s: Should Kids Be Kept Off Social Media?: Yuval Levin’s suggestion is an interesting one, but experience tells us that kids are savvy at getting around age restrictions and safety guards. Kids today are forming connections using technology and growing up with a smartphone in their hands, so we must meet the moment by taking a holistic approach to keeping them safe online. We need to ensure that social media platforms are designed to protect children from bad actors. And we must support parents by providing them with tools to have effective communication with their kids about online safety. Age limits alone will not take the place of these two fundamental elements. Research shows that parents shy away from having difficult conversations about safety topics. For example, one recent survey shows that while the majority of parents have spoken with their kids about being safe on social media generally, less than a third have talked directly about sharing and resharing nude selfies. In short, parents need support so they can feel confident having early and judgment-free conversations with their kids. Platforms need to be proactive in designing their platforms with child safety in mind. And youth need access to modern, relevant education on these tough topics to reduce shame and create a safety net.

Harrisburg Patriot News: Dauphin County girl rescued from couple who lured her away via Instagram: police: A New York couple kidnapped a Dauphin County teenager last year after reaching out to her on Instagram and offering to do her makeup, court documents said. A 13-year-old girl’s mother reported her missing to Lower Swatara Township police after she’d been gone for several days in December 2021. The mother said her daughter had run away before, but usually came right back or was quickly found, Lower Swatara police said in an affidavit of probable cause. Investigators traced the 13-year-old’s Internet Protocol (IP) address on Instagram to a home in Amsterdam, New York, where Jeniyah D. Lockhart-Tippins and Neil T. Moore II lived, according to the affidavit.  After she was rescued from the couple’s home, the 13-year-old told investigators Lockhart-Tippins followed her on Instagram and sent her a direct message, offering to do her makeup, the affidavit said.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review: Cellphones in schools: Some districts take steps to eliminate devices from class while others balance benefits: Wake up. Check your phone. Go to class. Check your phone. Start homework. Check your phone. Go to bed. Check your phone. For some high schoolers, cellphone use is almost on par with blinking, with the average teenager raking in up to nine hours of screen time each day, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology. In the classroom, phones can serve as an educational tool or a pesky distraction. The latter rang true for six Western Pennsylvania schools — so much so that these schools will take steps to eliminate cellphone use from the classroom during the 2022-23 academic year.

WIRED: How to Use Snapchat’s Family Center With Your Kids: The social media platform just made it easier to find out who your children are interacting with online: TO ALL THE parents who want to know more about who your kids are talking to on their smartphones, I have good news and bad news. The good news: A prominent social media app recently made changes allowing parents and guardians to access more data on the children they care for who are ages 13 to 17. The bad news: You have to download Snapchat. Once it’s set up and your account is connected with those of your children, Snapchat’s new family center lets you see the child’s friend list, who they’re sending messages to, and report potential abuse. The family center does not let you peek into the content of their messages. Although the new feature allows you to see the approximate time your teen messaged someone during the past week, an exact timestamp isn’t provided.

Huffington Post: 7 Things You Should Ask Your Kids About Their Social Media Accounts: Parents may feel apprehensive thinking about their kids on social media, but the reality is young people regularly use platforms like Instagram, TikTok and Snapchat. A survey published by Common Sense Media in March 2022 found that 84% of teens and 38% of tweens say they use social media, with 62% of teens and 18% of tweens saying they use it every day. These numbers underscore the importance of talking to young people about these platforms and their experiences.

Forbes: What The Results Of 32 Studies Teach Us About Parenting In The Age Of Social Media: A new study published in the academic journal Current Opinion in Psychology offers a path forward for parents who are searching for better ways to navigate the nascent world of adolescent social media use. The authors argue that it is possible for parents to put guardrails in place that reduce pre-teen and adolescent anxiety and depression resulting from social media overconsumption, as well as minimize the negative effects of cyberbullying. Here is an overview of their recommendations.

U.S. World News & Report: How to Talk to Tweens About Being Responsible on Social Media: Posting questionable content online could affect your child’s future.: Social media users are getting younger. As screen time increased during the pandemic, so did social media use, especially among tweens, according to the latest report by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit research and advocacy group. Although most social media apps are intended for those 13 or older, nearly one in every five tweens, defined as those ages 8 to 12, reported being on social media daily. These platforms can have both positive and negative effects for young people, researchers say. As more kids access social media at younger ages, it’s increasingly important for parents and educators to help them learn how to stay safe and use social media responsibly. That includes teaching your kids that what they say online can have long-term consequences.

AP: California social media addiction bill drops parent lawsuits: A first-of-its-kind proposal in the California Legislature aimed at holding social media companies responsible for harming children who have become addicted to their products would no longer let parents sue popular platforms like Instagram and TikTok. The revised proposal would still make social media companies liable for damages of up to $250,000 per violation for using features they know can cause children to become addicted. But it would only let prosecutors, not parents, file the lawsuits against social media companies. The legislation was amended last month, CalMatters reported Thursday. The bill’s author, Republican Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham, said he made the change to make sure the bill had enough votes to pass in the state Senate, where he said a number of lawmakers were “nervous about creating new types of lawsuits.”

NPR: Snapchat’s new parental controls try to mimic real-life parenting, minus the hovering: Snapchat is rolling out parental controls that allow parents to see their teenager’s contacts and report to the social media company — without their child’s knowledge — any accounts that may worry them. The goal, executives say, is to enable parents to monitor their child’s connections without compromising teens’ autonomy. Named Family Center, the new suite of tools released Tuesday requires both caregiver and teen to opt in.

New York Post: ‘Victims of Instagram’: Meta faces novel legal threat over teen suicides: Meta is facing a fresh storm of lawsuits that blame Instagram for eating disorders, depression and even suicides among children and teens — and experts say the suits are using a novel argument that could pose a threat to Mark Zuckerberg’s social-media empire. The suits — which are full of disturbing stories of teens being barraged by Instagram posts promoting anorexia, self-harm and suicide — rely heavily on leaks by whistleblower Frances Haugen, who last year exposed internal Meta documents showing that Instagram makes body image issues and other mental health problems worse for many teens.

CNET: Kids Are Being Exploited Online Every Day – Sometimes at the Hands of Their ParentsOn TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, some kids are making millions. But any child working as an influencer is at risk of exploitation.: Rachel Barkman’s son started accurately identifying different species of mushroom at the age of 2. Together they’d go out into the mossy woods near her home in Vancouver and forage. When it came to occasionally sharing in her TikTok videos her son’s enthusiasm and skill for picking mushrooms, she didn’t think twice about it — they captured a few cute moments, and many of her 350,000-plus followers seemed to like it. That was until last winter, when a female stranger approached them in the forest, bent down and addressed her son, then 3, by name and asked if he could show her some mushrooms. “I immediately went cold at the realization that I had equipped complete strangers with knowledge of my son that puts him at risk,” Barkman said in an interview this past June.  This incident, combined with research into the dangers of sharing too much, made her reevaluate her son’s presence online. Starting at the beginning of this year, she vowed not to feature his face in future content.

Forbes: TikTok Moderators Are Being Trained Using Graphic Images Of Child Sexual Abuse: A largely unsecured cache of pictures of children being sexually exploited has been made available to third-party TikTok content moderators as a reference guide, former contractors say. Nasser expected to be confronted with some disturbing material during his training to become a content moderator for TikTok. But he was shocked when he and others in his class were shown uncensored, sexually explicit images of children.

Politico: Congress is closer than ever to reining in social media: The fallout from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen’s explosive testimony about social media’s threat to children before the Senate Commerce Committee last fall is coming into focus. There’s bipartisan support in Congress to ban targeted ads aimed at kids under 16, require tech firms to establish default safety tools to protect children online and give parents more control over their children’s web surfing.

New York Post: Online dangers are rampant for kids today: One of the most important jobs parents have today is keeping their children safe online. As moms and dads prepare to send their kids back to school soon, one critical item needs to be included on the checklist: checking out all online platforms their kids are using — and starting conversations early about cyber safety. Kids and teens between the ages of 8-28 spend about 44.5 hours each week in front of digital screens, according to the nonprofit Center for Parenting Education. This makes it crystal clear that parents need to be tuned in and very educated about what, exactly, their kids are doing during those hours.

CBS News: “It’s a crisis”: More children suffering mental health issues, challenges of the pandemic: According to the Mental Health Alliance, in 2022, fifteen percent of kids ages 12 to 17 reported experiencing at least one major depressive episode. That was 306,000 more than last year. “It’s bad. It’s a crisis” said Katherine Lewis, a licensed family therapist at The Bougainvilla House, a nonprofit treatment center in Ft Lauderdale that describes itself as a safe place for children and youth to grow emotionally. To understand why children’s mental health is in such a fragile state, CBS4 was given rare access to the center

Newsweek: Too Much Screen Time for Teens Leads to Mental Disorders, New Study Shows: Youngsters who spend a lot of time in front of a screen are at greater risk of developing behavior disorders, warned a new study. Social media is thought to have an especially strong influence and was most likely to be linked to issues such as shoplifting, scientists said. Watching videos and television, playing games, and texting were linked with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD), according to the findings published July 26 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Good Housekeeping: The Hidden Danger Behind TikTok’s “Product Overload” Cleaning Trend: TikTok is ripe with cleaning inspiration, but one eyebrow-raising trend that has been building steam over the last year now has experts concerned about social media users’ safety. Appropriately known as “product overload” by those in the know, the trend — which involves users filming themselves loading up a toilet, bath or sink with copious amounts of astringent cleaning products — has become its own form of ASMR for what’s known as the “CleanTok” corner of the platform.

FOX 11 (Los Angeles): TikTok sued by parents of teen who blame platform for child’s eating disorder: Another lawsuit was filed Thursday against TikTok, this time by the parents of a girl who allege the social media platform’s content is responsible for their 13-year-old daughter’s severe eating disorder that required the child’s hospitalization and will affect her for life.

The Washington Post: Senate panel advances bills to boost children’s safety online: Senators took their first step toward increasing protections for children and teens online on Wednesday, advancing a pair of bipartisan bills that would expand federal safeguards for their personal information and activities on digital platforms. The push gained momentum on Capitol Hill last year after Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen disclosed internal research suggesting that the company’s products at times exacerbated mental health issues for some teens.

ABC News: Wren Eleanor’ TikTok trend sees parents removing photos, videos of their kids. An account featuring a 3-year-old has sparked a discussion on online safety.: The families of two teens filed new lawsuits against Meta, the parent company of Instagram, claiming the platform causes eating disorders and is spurring a mental health crisis among young people. A TikTok account with more than 17 million followers has sparked a discussion about children’s privacy and safety online.

ABC News: VIDEO: Parents sue TikTok after daughter dies attempting ‘blackout’ social media challenge: The parents speak exclusively to ABC News about a social media challenge called “blackout” — in which children choke themselves until they pass out. A Wisconsin family is suing TikTok after their 9-year-old daughter died attempting the so-called “blackout challenge” popularized on social media.

Fortune: Instagram and TikTok are wreaking havoc on our finances and happiness, new survey finds: You might have recently purchased athletic gear or a hoodie from an advertisement shared by an online retailer—and immediately regretted it. You’re far from alone. Social media impacts consumers’ spending habits, according to a new study by Bankrate, with nearly half of users admitting to making an impulse purchase based on a sponsored post.

Tech Crunch: Kids and teens now spend more time watching TikTok than YouTube, new data shows: Kids and teens are now spending more time watching videos on TikTok than on YouTube. In fact, that’s been the case since June 2020 — the month when TikTok began to outrank YouTube in terms of the average minutes per day people ages 4 through 18 spent accessing these two competitive video platforms.

Variety: TikTok Will Add Adult-Content Warning Labels to Videos With ‘Overtly Mature Themes’: TikTok is giving users of the popular app more controls over the kinds of videos they see in their feed — including flagging videos with “mature or complex themes” intended for viewers 18 and older. TikTok’s Community Guidelines detail categories of content that is banned by the platform, including nudity, pornography and sexually explicit content.

Forbes: TikTok: America’s Drug Of Choice: A recent report that TikTok’s American user data is routinely accessed by Chinese employees comes as no surprise. China’s global technology companies have long engaged in persistent data sharing thereby giving the Chinese government eyes and ears around the world.

New York Post: Alarming TikTok trend sees parents ask kids to help them fight: The first rule of Fight Club is you do not talk about Fight Club, but these parents are posting on TikTok. A new trend on the video-sharing app that involves parents asking their kids to defend them in a fight has divided users, with some saying it’s promoting violence in young children. The trend — and the hashtag #fightprank — has over 24.8 million views on TikTok.

Tech Crunch: Children’s rights groups call out TikTok’s ‘design discrimination’: Research examining default settings and terms & conditions offered to minors by social media giants TikTok, WhatsApp and Instagram across 14 different countries — including the US, Brazil, Indonesia and the UK — has found the three platforms do not offer same level of privacy and safety protections for children across all the markets where they operate.

New York Post: TikTok sued after young girls die in ‘blackout challenge’: TikTok is facing wrongful death lawsuits after two young girls killed themselves trying to recreate “blackout challenge” videos they watched on the platform. Lalani Erika Walton, 8, and Arriani Jaileen Arroyo, 9, both wound up dead after watching hours of the videos featuring the challenge fed to them by TikTok’s algorithm, the suits allege, the Los Angeles Times reported.

CNN: An FCC regulator wants TikTok removed from app stores. Here’s how a company executive responded: While TikTok’s short-form videos are entertaining, that’s “just the sheep’s clothing,” a Federal Communications Commission official said, and the app should be removed from app stores because of security issues. But a TikTok executive, in a rare interview on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday, claimed there are no security concerns linked to the hugely successful app.

Forbes: Hugely Popular NGL App Offers Teenagers Anonymity In Comments About Each Other: A new app that allows Instagram users to send anonymous messages is soaring in popularity – and renewing concerns about cyberbullying and harassment that plagued previous apps allowing teens to comment on one another without attribution.

WTAE-TV: VIDEO: Charleroi man accused of luring three young girls through Snapchat: Police say Brandon Johnson, 35, drove girls to a Connellsville hotel: Connellsville police said a 35-year-old Charleroi man used Snapchat to lure three young girls to an area hotel last weekend.

US Attorney’s Office: Philadelphia Man Convicted of Sex Trafficking a Minor on United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that a man was convicted at trial of sex trafficking, arising from his forcible coercion of a minor to engage in prostitution. The defendant and the victim first met on a digital social networking application in June 2016.

WTAE-TV (Pittsburgh): North Dakota man accused of sexually exploiting 13-year-old Washington County girl: A North Dakota man has been indicted on charges of child pornography and sexual exploitation of a 13-year-old girl from Washington County. Nicholas Nesdahl, 27, was being held in a jail in North Dakota on Friday awaiting extradition to the Pittsburgh area. In October 2021, a woman reported to Peters Township police that she found troubling videos on her daughter’s cellphone.

PA Police Warn Of Dangerous TikTok Challenge With Gel Gun: Police departments all over are warning folks about a dangerous social media challenge urging users to shoot modified pellet guns at people.

PA State Rep. Hit By Pellets While Walking Dog: As multiple police agencies were investigating a shooting at Erie High School, Rep. Pat Harkins was walking his dog Barry, just several blocks away.

FBI Pittsburgh Warns of Increase in Sextortion Schemes Targeting Teenage Boys: The FBI Pittsburgh Field Office is warning parents and caregivers about an increase in incidents in the Pittsburgh area involving sextortion of teenagers. The FBI is receiving an increasing number of reports of adults posing as age-appropriate females coercing young boys through social media to produce sexual images and videos and then extorting money from them.

Dad Warns Parents After Son, 12, Dies from ‘Blackout Challenge’: ‘Check Out’ Your Kids’ Phones “This is a weapon in our home that people don’t know about,” says Haileyesus Zeryihun.

Vague TikTok threats bring police presence to local schools: Law enforcement and schools are taking extra precautions amid an apparent TikTok trend threatening violence nationwide on Friday.

12-Year-Old Boy Who Burned 35 Percent of Body in TikTok ‘Fire Challenge’ Tells Kids ‘Not to Be a Follower’: Nick Howell spent almost six months in and out of the hospital and had 50 surgeries

Easton Express-Times: Slate Belt teen faces 20 child porn counts in Pa. Attorney General’s Office probe: An 18-year-old Slate Belt man faces numerous charges of possessing child pornography after a months-long investigation by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office

PFSA’s Digital Dialogue Video Series

PFSA’s Digital Dialogue video series is a new resource that provides listeners with updated information, current events, and emerging trends regarding digital safety and digital wellbeing for families. This video series is intended to help increase awareness, educate families and professionals, and provide tips that can be quickly implemented as we navigate the digital era of parenting.

Check out the videos below and keep an eye out for new videos in this series!

Reporting Abuse and Exploitation


  • ChildLine provides information, counseling, and referral services for families and children to ensure the safety and well-being of the children of Pennsylvania. The toll-free intake line,1-800-932-0313, is available 24/7 to receive reports of suspected child abuse.

NCMEC CyberTipline

  • The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) CyberTipline is the nation’s centralized reporting system for the online exploitation of children. The public and electronic service providers can make reports of suspected online enticement of children for sexual acts, child sexual molestation, child sexual abuse material, child sex tourism, child sex trafficking, unsolicited obscene materials sent to a child, misleading domain names, and misleading words or digital images on the internet. Reports may be made 24/7 online at OR by call the 24-Hour Hotline: 1-800-THE-LOST (1-800-843-5678)

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