Get kids off social media
"Social media is no place for kids," writes Yuval Levin in a New York Times op-ed. He advocates raising the age requirement for social media use to 18, and giving it "real teeth."
If Instagram and TikTok were brick-and-mortar spaces in your neighborhood, you probably would never let even your teenager go to them alone. Parents should have the same say over their children’s presence in these virtual spaces.
Children under 13 aren't supposed to have social-media accounts, but the law is "routinely ignored," writes Levin. "Almost 40 percent of American children ages 8 to 12 use social media, according to a recent survey by Common Sense Media."
He proposes ways to make age verification reliable, and giving parents the power to opt in their children, if they want them on social media.
Internal documents from Facebook — now known as Meta — regarding the use of its Instagram platform by teens point to real concerns. “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” the researchers noted in one leaked slide. Documents also pointed to potential links between regular social media use and depression, self-harm and, to some extent, even suicide.
TikTok, which is also very popular with tweens and teens, has — alongside other social media platforms — been linked to body image issues as well, and to problems ranging from muscle dysmorphia to a Tourette’s-like syndrome, sexual exploitation and assorted deadly stunts. More old-fashioned problems like bullying, harassment and conspiracism are also often amplified and exacerbated by the platforms’ mediation of the social lives of kids.
"It was a mistake to let kids and teens onto the platforms in the first place," Levin concludes. "But we are not powerless to correct that mistake."