In a poll released today by the Council for Responsible Social Media (CRSM), Washington residents overwhelmingly support passing the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), a bipartisan bill that would safeguard and prioritize the safety of children online. Eighty-eight percent of respondents said they support KOSA and 74% said they would be more likely to vote for a member of Congress who “supported a law requiring technology companies to create protections for children on their platforms.” This support cut across partisan lines, with 92% of Democrats and 86% of Republicans voicing their support for KOSA.
“Americans are outraged about how the social media platforms are impacting their kids and have every right to expect Congress to do something about it now,” said Council for Responsible Social Media Co-chair and former House Majority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO).
“KOSA is backed by a bipartisan coalition in Congress, including Senate Commerce Chair Maria Cantwell, and has overwhelming support from voters across the political spectrum in Washington state,” Gephardt continued. “This bill establishes a duty of care for platforms to prioritize the health of children, gives kids and parents tools to disable addictive product features, and enables the strongest settings by default. These protections are crucial to building online spaces that are safe and nurturing for kids.”
A revised version of KOSA was released this week, with changes designed to protect LGBTQ youth and deter the tech companies from collecting additional data from users to verify their ages. Including KOSA in the year-end spending bill will require the support of congressional leadership, including Sen. Cantwell (D-WA) and House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), both Washington legislators. Sen. Cantwell has been vocal in her support for KOSA, meeting with key stakeholders and calling for the bill’s passage before the end of the year. In July, her committee favorably advanced KOSA by a unanimous vote, 28-0.
In their support of KOSA, Washingtonians are aligned with more than 230 national, state, and local organizations, led by the American Academy of Pediatrics, who sent a recent letter to Senate and House leadership advocating for KOSA’s passage. A second letter this week from a broad coalition of Gen Z activists echoed this call to action.
These letters follow a call earlier this month from 39 members of the CRSM calling for Congress to pass KOSA. The Council for Responsible Social Media, a project of Issue One, brings together policymakers, impacted communities, and key stakeholders to advance meaningful reforms to social media platforms. KOSA is the first piece of legislation endorsed by the members of this group.
“Along with the broader push from stakeholder groups, this poll should be a wake-up call for legislators in Washington and across the country,” said Council for Responsible Social Media Co-chair Kerry Healey, the former Republican lieutenant governor of Massachusetts. “Congress hasn’t passed legislation to protect kids online since 1996, when the internet barely existed. Now parents, children, and children’s health experts are demanding better. By passing KOSA, Congress can ensure that online platforms are designed with the safety and wellbeing of children as the first priority.”
In addition to highlighting support for KOSA, the poll demonstrated widespread frustration and safety concerns among Washington residents with social media platforms. Eighty-eight percent said social media was very or somewhat unsafe for kids. The poll found deep concern among respondents about the impact of social media on kids’ mental health (75% somewhat or very negative) and physical health (69%), as well as highlighting specific concerns such as social media addiction (80%), bullying, harassment or hate speech (75%), and pressure to live up to unrealistic standards (75%).
Issue: Kids’ Online Safety