Strengthening U.S. Youth Protection Law
Strengthening U.S. Youth Protection Law
  • Lee You-bin
  • 승인 2023.09.22 12:43
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Due to the development of electronic devices, many people own electronic devices. With the widespread usage of electronic devices, even young children can easily access media. Media profoundly affects children who absorb a lot like sponges. Hence, the Youth Protection Act has been strengthened in the United States to reduce damage caused by media. Let's find out what opinions are shared by ST. ......Ed

     Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, added parental care for its children and strengthened its monitoring tools last June due to pressure from US federal lawmakers to strengthen the safety of minors as teenagers are increasingly exposed to inappropriate content on various SNS (Social Networking Service) platforms. According to the US (United States) PHSCC (Public Health Service Commissioned Corps), “There is a mental health crisis among young people, and SNS is seen as a major trigger. Adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on SNS are twice as likely to suffer from mental health problems such as depression and anger."

     First, in the case of Facebook, parents can check their children’s usage time and messenger contacts, but the conversation contents cannot be shown. Instagram also allows parents to check their children’s usage time and Instagram followers and restricts adults’ ability to send messages to teenagers. Lastly, YouTube enables content restrictions and has launched a separate app for children called YouTube Kids. 

     Meta claims that “By setting this function as an option, we balanced youth safety and autonomy. The company is working to promote dialogue between parents and children.” However, some criticize such measures as ineffective due to their nature requiring consent not only from the parents but also from the children. Meta has also not released the figures on how many youth users have agreed to the feature. In response, Jim Steyer, CEO (Chief Executive Officer) of Common-Sense Media, criticized Meta’s new parent’s child supervision function as a ‘smoke screen.’

     Politicians and governments in the US and Europe push for bills to raise the age of social media use or strengthen protection for minors, but related bills have not yet been discussed in Korea. Of course, in Korea, domestic social media operate a minor protection system, allowing guardians to limit minors’ social media usage time or report abnormal activities on all major social media. However, few parents know about this function because companies do not actively promote it in Korea. According to the National Youth Policy Institute, two out of three Korean teenagers use their smartphones for an average of more than three hours a day, and 19.1% of them said they had difficulty studying or performing their work because of their smartphones. Even if the bill regulating the media is ineffective immediately, it is necessary to recognize and resolve the seriousness of teenagers’ media exposure. ST hopes that effective regulations will be implemented in Korea as well.

Lee You-bin (ST-Reporter)

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