Topeka, Ks– Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt is urging the owners of social media platforms TikTok and Snapchat to make necessary modifications in the applications to give parents more control over the frequently harmful content that reaches children.
In a letter sent this week by 44 attorneys general, Schmidt asked TikTok and Snapchat officials to take steps to allow parents greater ability to monitor their children’s social media usage as a means for protecting them from online threats.
The attorneys general noted that research has concluded that social media usage can have a negative impact on the physical, emotional and mental well-being of children and teenagers. These range from decreased self-esteem and greater body-image dissatisfaction to increased exposure to cyberbullying and sexual predation.
“Parental control apps can alert parents or schools to messages and posts on your platforms that have the potential to be harmful and dangerous,” Schmidt and the other attorneys general wrote. “Apps can also alert parents if their child manifests a desire for self-harm or suicide. On other platforms where these apps are allowed to operate appropriately parents have received notifications of millions of instances of severe bullying and hundreds of thousands of self-harm situations, showing that these apps have the potential to save lives and prevent harm to our youth.”
Schmidt said social media platforms already engage in some content moderation and operate under some community guidelines, but these are not always sufficient to protect children and teenagers who are particularly vulnerable to online threats, especially with regard to direct messaging. Parental control apps empower parents to be full partners with the platforms to maintain a safe space online for their children.
The attorneys general do not advocate for specific parental control apps, but encourage TikTok and Snapchat to collaborate with existing developers to implement stronger parental controls and greater ability to moderate content on the social media platforms.
A copy of the letter sent to TikTok and Snapchat can be found at https://bit.ly/3x3blXt.