Our view: Social media concerns link to the government

Decades ago, when Chuck Berry strolled the stage and Elvis Presley shook his hips suggestively, many parents tried to ban rock ‘n’ roll. A few generations later, rock is still with us, and Elvis’s spin seems downright pedestrian.

The point is that banning what teenagers would consider a generation-identifying trait is a fruitless exercise. And yet, the details behind the popular social media app TikTok deserve the attention of parents and government officials.

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, raising concerns that the Chinese government may be using the app to collect the personal information of millions of Americans. TikTok has been banned for use on work devices by federal and government employees in 34 states, with the bans cited as a matter of national security.

“It’s not that we know TikTok has done anything, but that distrust of China and awareness of Chinese espionage has grown,” said James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The context for TikTok is much worse as trust in China is waning.”

It has various atwitter rows about what to do. Montana recently became the first state to completely ban TikTok. Starting next year, downloading apps will be illegal in the state, although it’s unclear how this will be enforced.

At the congressional level, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation prohibiting children under 13 from using social media; children between the ages of 13 and 18 would require parental consent.

“That’s enough,” said Senator Katie Britt, R-Ala. “The time to act is now.” Senator Chris Murphy, D-Conn., added: “I feel we’ve reached a point where doing nothing is not an option. And increasingly, when members of Congress go home, it’s one of the first or second things they hear from their constituents.”

Indeed, social media can have a negative impact on teens. As US Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy wrote in an article for The Washington Post this week: “The bottom line is that we don’t have enough evidence to say that social media is safe enough for our children. In fact, there is growing evidence that social media use during adolescence – a critical stage in brain development – is associated with damage to mental health and well-being.”

Child protection is an important task for lawmakers at all levels of government. But parents also play a role in monitoring social media use and modeling appropriate behavior. The American Psychological Association specifically advises teens to avoid social media that has “likes” counts, and encourages parents to talk to their children about social media use.

But while the social media debate becomes a major talking point across the country, we’re intrigued by the legislation that was being considered in the Washington legislature this year. Senate Bill 5626 focused on media literacy in schools, but also included provisions for “digital citizen” education, focusing on online behavior. The bill passed the Senate 44-4 but was not passed by the House.

“It’s really important during these times to enable our students to be ready to embrace this information and think critically,” said sponsor Senator Marko Liias, D-Everett.

Lawmakers should reconsider legislation in the future while addressing the impact of social media. Because the world is so much more complex and dangerous than when hip spinning was a scandal.

Source link

Leave a Comment