How can parents monitor their children’s screen time? | Opinion

From cyberbullying and peer pressure to explicit content and websites that encourage self-harm and dangerous fads, even the most anxious child can stumble upon dangers online.

adolescence and adolescence modified Hours of watching videos online every day, they are regularly exposed to content their parents would never allow them to watch in real life. It’s no secret that the top performing videos on TikTok are optimized for interaction, not age-appropriate.

The first line of defense, of course, are parents and their communities. But while these efforts are necessary, they are not sufficient. Lawmakers from across the political spectrum, including progressives California, recognizes the need to tilt the playground away from big technology and toward protecting children. Giving parents more tools to ensure their children’s safety online should be part of a pro-parent policy agenda.

The most important step policymakers can take is to require all minors to obtain permission from a parent or legal guardian to open an account on a social networking site or app, as Thomas Lerman and Brad Wilcox of the University of Virginia have done I suggested.

But the next level strategy would be to link that parent’s account to their child’s, giving mom or dad admin-level access to view the child’s messages, videos, preferences, and settings. Already, many parents ask their children for their passwords to their social media sites, although some feel that doing so may indicate mistrust. Of course, parents will never have to use this access if they don’t want to, but having it as a default may help parents be more aware of what their children are watching online, and do a better job of having conversations about social media content.

Many serious social illnesses that exacerbate mental illness, suicide and depression fuel by Online Subcultures which cannot always be seen with the naked eye. Even in the least harmful domains, many parents who are surprised by sudden changes in teens’ identity, interests, and behavior attributed Changes in social media use that they weren’t aware of. parentsuntil gradual She expressed concerns about what unrestricted access to pornography did to middle and high school students.

Giving parents the ability to see what kind of content their children are feeding through to algorithms or other users can give them an early warning sign. And knowing that mom or dad might end up finding a string of age-inappropriate content might make some kids think twice before clicking on links they shouldn’t.

When it comes to technology and social media, parents across the political spectrum feel overwhelmed; thirds of parents tell pollsters that they are somewhat or very concerned about their children being the target of cyber predators or accessing violent or sexually explicit content. There is a growing bipartisan effort to get the federal government to update its ground rules around children and technology.

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act currently offers some basic protections – for example, websites and social media companies cannot collect information on children under the age of 13 without their parents’ permission. But the law was passed in the days before MySpace, not to mention Snapchat, Instagram or TikTok.

President Joe Biden has Call To ban data collection and advertising targeting of minors, which will not solve the basic problems facing children. The promising federal path is bipartisan The Children’s Online Safety Act of 2022, or KOSA, was sponsored by Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-Ten) and Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT). The law would require social media platforms to prevent the glorification of certain harmful behaviors (including self-harm and suicide), enhance data privacy for users under 16, and give minors more ability to opt out of algorithmic recommendations. It will make it easier for researchers to study the impact of technology on children.

Most importantly, KOSA will explore the best ways to implement an age verification system that would prevent children from accessing explicit content without providing proof of age, such as a driver’s license or bank account. This is a crucial step in a world where the average age of first exposure to pornography is now soon 11 or 12 year.

But states do not need to wait for Congress. California Recently passed law It requires the Online Services to turn on the highest privacy settings by default for users under the age of 18, and to block certain forms of data collection and tracking. It offers a modest first step toward a more kid-friendly internet, although it doesn’t go far enough to give parents more ability to see what their kids see online.

Governors should embrace and build on California’s legislation. It is important to stress that these efforts are not about moderating Big Tech’s content or political censorship; It’s about realizing that the socially driven pressures children face online are too great for any parent to stop alone.

Again, parents always have the ultimate responsibility for keeping their children safe online. Earlier this year, my colleagues at the Center for Ethics and Public Policy and I created a A Parent’s Guide to Kids and TechnologyIt aims to equip families to be more aware of some of the tools that exist for filtering content and enforcing screen time limits. the group Wait until eighta parent-led grassroots movement that encourages parents to pledge to each other that their children will not get a mobile phone until eighth grade.

But parents also need help from policy makers. Building better firewalls around how children interact online is like drawing a footpath on a busy street. Nothing can guarantee that they will not find danger, but by changing the infrastructure, we can reduce the likelihood that they will be harmed. Likewise, changing our digital infrastructure to err on the side of protecting children should be a top priority.

Pro-family conservatives should feel encouraged that even progressive states are beginning to address the dangers facing children online. Giving parents more tools to shape and monitor the digital environment in which their children will spend time should be an essential part of a pro-family agenda, perhaps even an area of ​​bipartisan compromise.

Patrick T. Brown (PTBwrites on Twitter) is a fellow at the Center for Ethics and Public Policy and writes from Columbia, South Carolina.

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