US adults Support New Social Media Restrictions To Protect Children
On March 6-7, 2023, the Reboot Foundation surveyed 1,049 U.S. adults and found strong support for new regulations on how social media platforms interact with minors and children. Survey respondents were demographically representative of the Census, and the survey itself has a margin of error of 3 percent.
62 percent want children off social media
Any child can bypass a platform’s age restriction by simply lying about their age. These ineffective restrictions put children at risk of mental health issues, cyber-bullying, identity theft, and expose them to child predators, to name a few very real and serious dangers. A growing body of research is demonstrating connections between social media use and mental health issues among young people, particularly girls. In Congress, Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) and Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) have proposed legislation that would raise the legal age for social media use in the U.S. to 16, and would require social networks to verify the identity and age of their users.
73 percent don’t want their data used for content suggestions
Social media platforms rely on their algorithms to keep users scrolling through a constant stream of content, much of it “recommended” from accounts the users do not follow. These algorithms are particularly dangerous for children, as increased screen time is correlated with higher rates of obesity, depression, sleep problems and other psychological problems. In addition, these algorithms can recommend inappropriate content or hate speech to children without them ever having searched for it.
80 percent want warning labels on social media
It is clear from a wide body of social science research, that social media users often exhibit usage patterns, traits, and behaviors similar to those with addiction issues. People want social media treated like other companies selling dangerous and addictive products by requiring them to alert their users of the dangers of overuse.
68 percent said websites should not advertise to children under 16
Governments have long recognized children need special protections from advertisers, but have yet to extend those protections to Internet ads even though they are formulated on data that includes demographics, browser histories, and purchase histories. In Europe, this restriction on advertising to minors is already in place under the Digital Services Act, which went into effect across the EU in 2022.
79 percent want to ban advertising on sites that traffic in disinformation
There is big money to be made pushing conspiracy theories and peddling disinformation online. One infamous website known to traffic in conspiracies and disinformation reportedly pulled in $800,000 a day from advertisers and corporate sponsors. Governments and digital platforms could take a significant step toward eliminating harmful online speech by making it impossible for platforms to profit from it.