Today, a group of social media experts, advocates, and stakeholders are gathering for a summit to kick off the year-long campaign Safe Tech, Safe Kids, which calls on Congress to take action to protect children online and hold social media companies accountable. The summit, Safe Tech, Safe Kids: Confronting Social Media’s Harms to Youth, is hosted by the crosspartisan advocacy group Issue One and its Council for Responsible Social Media, in partnership with Project Liberty, a global impact organization, and 5Rights Foundation.
“We know Americans want to protect the mental health of children by ending addictive practices like the endless scroll and targeted advertising at minors,” said Nick Penniman, co-founder and CEO of Issue One. “Parents are doing all they can to keep their kids safe, but they can’t combat the addictive nature of social media alone. It’s time for Congress to step in and create responsible safeguards.”
According to a new poll from Citizen Data commissioned by Issue One, 67% of Americans believe Congress needs to do more to hold Big Tech companies accountable for the harms caused by their social media platforms. The poll also showed Americans from both parties, 76%, overwhelmingly agree that social media companies have a responsibility to design their platforms in a way that protects the mental health of children, even if these practices limit profits. Americans don’t feel that things are heading in the right direction either — 80% believe evolving AI technologies will worsen children and teen safety online.
Over the last decade, rates of anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide have skyrocketted among America’s youth, spurred in part by the toxic digital environments created by social media platforms designed to be addictive.
“We need to do more to protect children on social media,” said Martina Larkin, CEO of Project Liberty. “The Safe Tech, Safe Kids campaign is about shifting the narrative and elevating the voices of young people and other key stakeholders impacted by harmful social media models, showcasing solutions, innovators and initiatives that show another way is possible — starting today.”
Today’s summit will feature stakeholders from across children’s advocacy, tech reform, pediatrics, education and other communities for a comprehensive look at how social media impacts our children — and what we can do to advance meaningful solutions. Speakers include:
- Kristin Bride, mother, activist and member of Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media (CRSM)
- Former Congressman Dick Gephardt, co-chair of CRSM
- Frances Haugen, activist, Facebook whistleblower, member of CRSM
- Imran Ahmed, founder & CEO of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, member of CRSM
- Laura Marquez-Garrett, Social Media Victims Law Center
Issue: Kids’ Online Safety