The National Association of Attorneys General have written to TikTok and Snapchat requesting greater parental control for accounts of children and minors.
The responsibility of preserving youth online lies with both parents and the platforms themselves. Social media platforms are responsible for monitoring and removing offensive content. While parental controls allow parents to monitor the messages and comments their child is receiving. In order to maximise the protection of children parents and social media need to work together. Platforms like TikTok and Snapchat need to provide parents with the option of utilizing appropriate tools that they believe will help their children.
Concerns and Requests
The letter talks about concerns they have regarding child safety on these video-sharing apps. There are concerns that the platforms do not take appropriate steps to allow parents to protect their children. For example, they do not effectively collaborate with parental control apps or provide an adequate opportunity for parental control within the platform. The controls that the apps do offer can be changed or bypassed by the children using the apps therefore making them useless.
The National Association of Attorneys General have requested that the companies empower greater parental controls, starting with:
- Conforming to widespread industry practices, such as allowing parental control apps to monitor content on the platform
- Enhancing content moderation to screen disturbing or abusive content on the platforms.
This letter comes of the back of research showing the negative impact that social media can have on physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children and teenagers. Bark’s annual report of 2021 analyzed more than 3.4 billion messages and discovered shocking trends:
- 43.09% of tweens and 74.61% of teens were involved in a self-harm/suicidal situation
- 68.97% of tweens and 90.73% of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature
- 19.69% of tweens and 42.05% of teens used language about anxiety or were exposed to anxiety
- 75.35% of tweens and 93.31% of teens engaged in conversations surrounding drugs/alcohol
- 72.09% of tweens and 85.00% of teens experienced bullying as a bully, victim or witness
- 32.11% of tweens and 56.40% of teens engaged in conversations about depression
- 1.96% of tweens and 7.66% of teens engaged with or encountered content about disorded eating
- 9.95% of tweens and 20.54% of teens encountered predatory behaviours from someone online
- 80.82% of tweens and 94.50% of teens expressed or experienced violent subject matter/thoughts