October 11, 2023

NYSUT fights to protect children from online dangers

Source:  NYSUT Communications
digital safety statement

Today, NYSUT Executive Vice President Jaime Ciffone joined Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York Attorney General Letitia James and state lawmakers as they announced new legislation aimed at online safety for children.

The proposed measures would support NYSUT’s fight to protect kids from the dangerous effects associated with social media use and from online platforms’ data collection practices.

“In order to prepare our children for success in this rapidly changing world and job market, we must create conditions that allow them to navigate emerging technologies and social media platforms safely and wisely,” NYSUT President Melinda Person said. “These bills are an important step in curbing the power these platforms can have over kids and would help to keep our schools as spaces where both students and educators can thrive.”

kids online safety

SIGN THE PETITION! NYSUT stands with Governor Hochul and Attorney General James to support statewide legislation protecting kids’ online safety. Voice your support by signing our petition!

Here's an overview of the two bills:

Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act

What this bill does:

  • Limit the access that social media companies’ algorithmic, or “addictive,” feeds have to minors
  • Require parental consent for minors to access algorithmic feeds on social media platforms
  • Require parental consent for minors to access social media platforms between 12am and 6am and get notifications during that time
  • Authorize the Office of the Attorney General to seek damages or civil penalties for violations up to $5,000 per violation
  • Allow parents/guardians of covered minors to sue for damages up to $500 per incident, or actual damages, whichever is greater

Why this is important:

  • Algorithmic feeds have been shown to be addictive, especially for minors, and prioritize content to keep users on the platform longer
  • Social media platforms will use algorithmic feeds to show minors content they have not followed or subscribed to, which may be inappropriate
  • Multiple studies show that social media use is linked to negative mental health outcomes for children and young adults. A recent advisory from the United States surgeon general noted that nearly 40 percent of children ages 8–12 use social media and that frequent social media use among adolescents can be associated with long-term developmental harm.

New York Child Data Protection Act

What this bill does:

  • Prohibits online platforms from collecting, using, sharing, or selling personal data of anyone under the age of 18 for advertising, unless they receive informed consent
  • For users under the age of 13, this informed consent must come from a parent or guardian
  • Authorize the Office of the Attorney General to seek damages or civil penalties for violations up to $5,000 per violation

Why this is important:

  • Other states and countries limit the personal data online platforms can collect from minors, but New York does not
  • This leaves children vulnerable to having their location and other personal data tracked, stored, and sold online
  • This leaves their data vulnerable to falling into the wrong hands