New York laws aim to protect kids online from addictive social media feeds and data collection

Protecting Kids Online

The News10NBC Team details breaking News, Traffic and Weather.

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — New York lawmakers passed two bills on Friday aimed at protecting kids online: The SAFE for Kids Act and the New York Child Data Protection Act.

The SAFE (Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation) for Kids Act bans personalized social media feeds for anyone under 18 unless they get verified parental approval. Social media companies track user behavior, including likes, follows, and time spent on posts, to design tailored feeds that keep users online longer, especially kids.

“We know that children are on their phones all of the time, we also as adults and parents have to be better models of cell phone usage, and social media usage. And I also think that many parents and families need help and need support in having those difficult conversations with our children,” said Kyle Belokopitsky, mom and executive director for the New York State Parent Teacher Association.

The New York Child Data Protection Act bans all websites, not just social media, from collecting, using, and selling kids’ personal data without informed consent.

Legislators say the goal is to pair back the addictive design that keeps both kids and adults scrolling, or at least push it off until the child is older. The laws go into effect 180 days after the Attorney General sets up the rules and enforcement mechanisms.

Attorney General Letitia James said because of the scope and specific language in this bill, she’s confident they can fend off lawsuits. In other states, tech companies have argued that social media algorithms are a form of free speech.

Advocates, most of whom were also parents, are calling this a huge win. As data continues to come out connecting social media usage and poor physical and mental health, legislators say these laws are necessary to protect kids online.

A.I. assisted with the formatting of this story. Click here to see how WHEC News 10 uses A.I.