August 30, 2022

AB 2408, Social Media, and Smoke Filled Rooms for Our Kids

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“This decision fell on Senator Portantino, the chair of the Appropriations Committee, who decided to hold the bill"
Kami Peer
Bryan Miller

Addiction to social media is very real. Many of us watched the documentary, The Social Dilemma, and continued to use social media without blinking an eye. Adults have free will and arguably have the right to choose to partake in activities that are damaging to their health. 

What about kids? 

Do children deserve bigger protections on these platforms? 

The world is full of addictive products: cigarettes, sugary foods, pornography, opioids… Regulators are not new to regulating products and their addictive nature; however, when it comes to technology, the laws are still in their infancy. 

In Episode 236 of Nation State of Play, Bryan Miller interviews Kami Peer from Common Sense Media, an advocacy group that lobbies for children’s digital well-being. They discuss the recent failure of a California bill (AB 2408) that would have regulated addictive design features on the “Social Media Giants.”

As portrayed in the Broadway hit, Hamilton, being “in the room where it happens.” is what matters the most. 

AB 2408 was held in the Senate Appropriation Committee’s Suspense File - literally decided behind closed doors by a few legislators on the Senate committee. The proverbial smoke-filled room

In this Nation State of Play episode, Miller asks Peer to elaborate on the difficulty of lobbying for kids while politics plays out behind closed doors. 

Peer: “This decision fell on Senator Portantino, the chair of the Appropriations Committee, who decided to hold the bill - decided that inaction was the best way forward. Common Sense believes that California families deserve a reason behind holding the bill. Right now, the decision seems to lean heavily toward Senator Portantino protecting corporate interests over children’s health.” 

Based on allegations of former C-level executives of Social Media Giants, social media is designed to be addictive. The more screen time we spend on social media, the more ad revenue the Social Media Giants make. Because of the novelty of social media, there are no long-term studies showing the effects of how it damages people’s health. 

Given that regulators tell children when to drink, drive and vote (among other things) -- should they also regulate if children should (or should not) be exposed to, arguably, predatory practices by big tech? 

Listen in on the conversation on this episode of Nation State of Play.

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