A bill that would permit parents to sue social media companies if children become addicted to their products passed the California Assembly Monday.
The Social Media Platform Duty to Children Act, or AB 2408, passed the California Assembly by a 51-0 vote Monday and currently sits in the state Senate Rules Committee. If signed into law, it would enable parents whose children become addicted to social media sites to sue companies for up to $25,000, according to the Associated Press.
“The era of unfettered social experimentation on children is over and we will protect kids,” said Republican Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham, co-author of the bill.
If AB 2408 becomes law, “social media companies and online web services would have no choice but to cease operations for kids under 18 and would implement stringent age-verification in order to ensure that adolescents did not use their sites,” said TechNet, a group of technology senior executives. The group counts Amazon, Apple, Google, and Meta (Facebook) among its members.
“There is no social media company let alone any business that could tolerate that legal risk,” TechNet continued.
Girls are more likely to become addicted to social media than boys, notes AB 2408, pointing out a stark disparity in reported depression rates between girls who use social media lightly when compared to girls who use the platforms heavily.
Indeed, depression spiked from 20 to 31 percent and self-harm jumped from 19 to 29 percent between the two groups (McAllister et al.).
“Sixty-six percent of teen girls on [Instagram, owned by Meta] experience negative social comparison (compared to 40% of teen boys),” states the bill, referencing a 2020 internal document made by Facebook researchers and obtained by the Wall Street Journal.
“We have to do something,” said Democrat Assemblymember Ken Cooley, a lawyer who noted that he typically opposed bills increasing lawsuit opportunities, reported the Associated Press. “If it doesn’t turn out right we can modify as we go along.”
Lawmakers must “change the dynamics of what is surrounding us, surrounding our kids,” Cooley said.
CNSNews reached out to California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins (D) and Republican Leader Scott Wilk (R) for comment and will update the piece accordingly.
Rob Shimshock is the commentary editor at CNSNews.com. He has covered education, culture, media, technology, and politics for a variety of national outlets, hosted the Campus Unmasked YouTube show, and was named to The Washington Examiner’s “30 Under 30” list. Shimshock graduated from the University of Virginia with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Media Studies.
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