Social media safety advocate urges parents to ‘wake up’ and take charge of Big Tech in children’s lives






One social media safety advocate is stressing the need for parents to step up and be the ultimate gatekeepers of their children’s use of Big Tech.

I just think that we have to focus on what’s happening to our kids, and it’s really time to wake up now,” ScreenStrong founder Melanie Hempe told Fox News Digital Friday. 

Several Big Tech leaders were grilled by lawmakers last week on the dangers of social media during a heated Senate hearing. 

‘WE NEED TO REIN THEM IN’: LAWMAKERS RAIL AGAINST SOCIAL MEDIA CEOS, BUT IS THERE ANY REGULATION IN SIGHT?

The CEOs of Meta, TikTok, X, Snap and Discord testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in a hearing that centered around the question of what liability and responsibility the platforms should bear if it knowingly or unknowingly hosts harmful content, specifically targeting or exploiting minors. 

Hempe, whose nonprofit “empowers families to prevent screen addiction and reclaim their kids from problematic screen use,” said that families need to be educated on the dangers of the platforms rather than rely on Big Tech to change its products.

“I believe that families need to be educated about what’s happening on those platforms,” Hempe said. “And we need to structure our kids’ lives, so they can live without them. I think it’s just going to be very difficult to change the platforms and make them kid friendly.

During the hearing, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a surprise apology to audience members after being pressed by Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo. Many of those in the audience were friends and family members who lost loved ones after they unknowingly bought fentanyl off social media and died, or were victims of eating disorders, self-harm and suicide because of harmful social media content. 

FACEBOOK IS 20, BUT THE SOCIAL MEDIA GIANT CAN’T GET PAST THESE 5 THREATS

Zuckerberg stood from his seat and directly told the audience, “I’m sorry for everything you’ve all been through. No one should have to go through the things that your families suffered.”

He added that his company will continue investing in efforts to protect users: “This is why we’ve invested so much … and will continue through industry-leading efforts to make sure that no [one has] to go through what your families have had to suffer.” 

Many parents and loved ones in the room were not satisfied with Zuckerberg’s “forced” apology. 

“It wasn’t a matter of accepting because … it wasn’t organic. It was forced. It wasn’t planned or anything like that,” Christine McComas said on “Fox & Friends Weekend” Sunday. 

McComas was at last week’s hearing in honor of her teenage daughter, Grace, who committed suicide after becoming a victim of sexual exploitation and cyberbullying. 

“It was surreal to be there at all. But really, the story isn’t his apology. The story is that kids are at risk. American kids need protection from different ways that social media platforms are operating.”

In response to Zuckerberg’s apology, Hempe argued while the platforms don’t “have it figured out,” there are also avenues to start taking action without waiting on Big Tech. 

“Zuckerberg, I don’t know, it’s kind of like everybody wants to blame somebody,” Hempe said. “And I’m not saying that he’s got it figured out. He does not have it figured out. But I don’t have time to blame anybody. I’ve got to fix my kids, and I have to fix what’s happening in my own house.”

PARENT OF FENTANYL VICTIM SUING SNAPCHAT REJECTS CEO’S DEFENSE: THEY ONLY HELPED AFTER MEDIA PRESSURE

Hempe argued the best way to help children avoid the dangers of social media as well as other developmental issues connected with excessive screen use is to cut out social media altogether and reduce screen time.

“Sometimes the best solution is just the most simple solution. And that is to get off of social media and not even have smartphones,” she said.

“Social media was never designed for children or teenagers,” she continued. “I believe that what we know from the science and what I know from all my experience being on the front lines with families for 10 years, almost 10 years that I’ve been talking with families and helping families reduce use not of all screens, but just the problematic screen time, which is video games, social media, pornography. Those three things are the most problematic.”

Lawmakers from both parties seemed to be marching to the beat of the same drum during Wednesday’s hearing, emphasizing their belief that Congress should take action to address safety concerns and reign in Big Tech. 

The Judiciary Committee has already unanimously passed five bills that would place more safeguards on social media applications like the ability to opt-out of algorithms geared toward addicting users, and expand the federal civil cause of action for child victims to sue the platforms that promoted or facilitated exploitation. 

Even state leaders are taking action. 

The Florida House recently passed a bill banning children under the age of 16 from creating accounts on social media platforms – even with parental approval – in efforts to keep children from growing up “hooked” on social media.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

While agreeing regulations are helpful, Hempe warned parens not to “lean too heavily” on them in lieu of being gatekeepers for their children. 

“No amount of regulation will take the job of a parent,” she said. “We have to be very careful that we don’t lean heavily on these regulations, because then we as parents start getting lazy. Then we start thinking that these regulations are going to take care of it.”

“I just want to be very clear to say that as parents, we need to be thankful for any regulation that’s out there, but we also need to be extremely educated on why our teenagers and our pre-teens do not need to be on social media at all.”

Fox News’ Brianna Herlihy and Elizabeth Pritchett contributed to this report.








Source link

You may also like

hot NEWS

TRENDING NEWS

SUBSCRIBE

follow us

photo

%d bloggers like this: