In response to this week’s executive order announced by the Biden-Harris Administration to address the growing youth mental health epidemic, and its clear link to social media platforms, Issue One released the following statement from Council for Responsible Social Media Co-chairs, former Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and former Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Kerry Healey:
“We applaud the Administration for taking concrete action to protect the mental health, privacy, and safety of children and teens online,” said Dick Gephardt. “In the same way that tobacco companies designed purposefully addictive products and marketed those products aggressively to young people and adults, today’s social media companies are engineering for addiction while obscuring the truth about what they do, all at the expense of future generations.”
“This executive order is a step in the right direction toward creating a healthier digital environment for our children, but it’s not enough,” said Kerry Healey. “Republicans and Democrats in Congress must work together to pass commonsense social media reforms that hold the tech companies accountable, limit the use of personal information and data, and reduce the amplification and targeting of material that is detrimental to a children’s health and wellbeing.”
This week’s announcement includes a series of actions by the Biden-Harris Administration. An interagency Task Force on Kids Online Health & Safety will be formed — uniting senior representatives from across the government and in consultation with leading experts — to prevent and mitigate the adverse health effects of online platforms on minors. Additionally, the Department of Education is directed to use its rulemaking authority under Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to protect the privacy of students’ data and use of this data by commercial entities. Other aspects of the order seek to crack down on harassment, bullying, and child sexual abuse material online.
These actions build upon the U.S. Surgeon-General’s new Advisory on Social Media and Youth Mental Health, which details the growing body of evidence demonstrating the negative effects that social media can have for the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents.
The Council for Responsible Social Media, a project of Issue One, launched in October 2022 with a mission to address the harms that social media has for American kids, communities, and national security. Learn more about the Council for Responsible Social Media.
Issue: Kids’ Online Safety