TRENTON, N.J. – Forty-four states’ and territories’ Attorneys General recently called on social media giants TikTok and Snapchat to collaborate with parental control applications so fathers, mothers and guardians can monitor their children’s social media usage on those platforms.
Conspicuously missing from that March 29 letter is the signature of New Jersey’s acting Attorney General, Matthew J. Platkin, an omission Assemblyman Christopher DePhillips hopes to correct.
“I’m urging you to reconsider your position and join the 44 other states demanding that TikTok and Snapchat implement stronger parental control apps to keep our children safe,” DePhillips (R-Bergen) said in an April 12 letter to Platkin.
Snapchat, cofounded by billionaire businessman and CEO Evan Spiegel, and particularly TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, have come under increasing scrutiny for their lack of parental controls and notifications. A Sept. 9, 2021 Wall Street Journal article, “TikTok serves up sex and drugs videos to young users,” found that the platform offered explicit content to accounts registered to 13- to 15-year-olds as part of the newspaper’s investigation.
Elsewhere, research increasingly shows social media negatively affects the social, emotional, and physical well-being of children and teenagers. One app analyzed more than 3 billion messages and found a frightening majority of young people engaged in life-destroying behaviors: self-harm, suicidal and violent thoughts, bullying, and explicit drug use and sex.
And many parents are in the dark. The attorneys general contend other social media platforms employ parental control apps that allow the responsible adults in children’s lives to monitor content and private messages.
“It’s a blessing and a curse that social media has connected people in ways that were unheard of not that long ago,” DePhillips added. “We all have a responsibility to let children experience the noble and beautiful, and be protected from predatory and ugly. I want that for the 2 million children in our state. Our top law enforcement official’s name should be on that letter.”
According to Statista.com, 10- to 19-year old females comprise the largest TikTok demographic. Snapchat users are a bit older, with the largest demographic of 18- to 24-year-olds split evenly between males and females.
The attorneys general from Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Texas also did not sign onto the coalition.