Last October, a bi-partisan bill establishing a Commission to examine the effects of Smart Phone and Social Media Usage on Adolescents (S715) passed the NJ State Senate unanimously. Sponsored by Senator Richard Codey (D) and Senator Ed Durr (R), the bill seeks to examine the pervasive use of cell phones in our schools, and tasks the commission with determining the effects that smart phones and social media have on the physical and emotional health of teens, as well as the impacts on their academic performance.
The bill and its Assembly counterpart, A1992, received no further action–until today. This morning, the Assembly Education Committee will hear S715, one of several bills relating to the effects of social media on children and teens that are receiving action over the next few days. [You can watch the Committee hearing via the NJ Legislature website HERE starting at 10am.]
The renewed interest in addressing the negative effects of social media comes about a month after the tragic death of Adriana Kuch, a 14-year-old girl from Bayville, NJ (shown in the photo accompanying this post) who was found dead just two days after a video of her being beaten by school bullies was posted on the social media platform TikTok.
I previously posted about another bill, A5069, which enacts stiff penalties against social media platforms that engage in “addicitive practices and features.” That bill is being heard in the Assembly Health Committee on Monday, March 20, 2023, along with Assembly Resolution 167, which urges Congress to require parental consent for anyone under the age of 16 to use social media. It’s still not clear how A5069 will define what is considered an addictive feature, or how that determination will be made, but I’m hoping for more clarity once the bill is heard next week.