Mayfield: New laws regulating social media are needed now

Jun 12, 2023, 8:06 AM | Updated: 9:43 am

laws regulating social media...

A 12-year-old boy looks at a smartphone screen on March 16, 2023 in Bath, England. Following the lead of the EU Commission and several US administrations, TikTok is set to be banned from UK government phones amid security concerns around the Chinese-owned video app. Recently TikTok announced that every account belonging to a user below age 18 have a 60-minute daily screen time limit automatically set. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

(Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Montana lawmakers just banned TikTok. In Utah, there are strict new laws governing how and when kids under 18 can even use social media. Louisiana is going further by also allowing parents to cancel terms of service contracts of their children’s existing accounts.

Dozens of other states have begun moving in this direction just this year.

More from Travis Mayfield: As smoke settles over halls of power, will minds change?

I agree wholeheartedly with this move to restrict the internet, and especially social media access, for our kids. We are in the midst of a teen and tween mental health crisis worsening by the hour. The U.S. Surgeon General has gone so far as to issue a warning about the deadly consequences kids can face.

And it’s not just bullying, eating disorders, sexual and violent content, but vile predators are everywhere. Last week, the Wall Street Journal uncovered a vast pedophile ring operating in the open on Instagram that the company was doing nothing about.

And that’s the issue, companies are doing nothing about too much of this. The self-policing they promised us years ago and continue to promise isn’t working.

And if I were being cynical, I would also point out that today there is just too much money to be made on teens by those very companies.

That’s when government should step in. Lawmakers should set legal limits backed by civil and even criminal penalties that hurt if companies violate them.

You can say parents should step in and set limits, but think about how hard that is when seemingly everyone else is either letting kids on social media or not catching them already being there.

Laws give parents support to say, “It’s illegal for you to do this,” and it gives teens the same support to tell themselves and their friends, “No, it’s illegal.”

There is something to be said for young people who find community, support, and acceptance on social media. Specifically, studies show LGBTQ+ teens often rely on social media for a community when they aren’t allowed it elsewhere. That can and does save lives.

As we debate laws to protect kids — something we should do both here in Washington and in the other Washington — we need to be nuanced and fact-based.

This morning the Wall Street Journal proposed a social media ban for kids under 16, and I think that sounds fair and smart. It balances the possible support some will find with the possible harm others may face. It gives our kids and their brains a few more years to grow and develop.

This is an issue that Republicans and Democrats are grappling with that families in Red and Blue states are wrestling with, and it has the potential to be bipartisan if we all make a good-faith effort to find common ground and act now.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dave Ross on KIRO Newsradio 97.3 FM
  • listen to dave rossTune in to KIRO Newsradio weekdays at 5am for Dave Ross on Seattle's Morning News.

Dave's Commentary

KIRO Newsradio Opinion


MyNorthwest Video

Video: Why does Washington State ranks as one of the most expensive states to raise kids?

Micki joins Seattle’s Morning News to discuss why Washington state ranks as one of the most expensive states in the country to raise a family. Listen to Seattle’s Morning News, weekdays from 5am to 9am on KIRO Newsradio 97.3fm!

23 hours ago

Dr. Bleich found you could discourage kids from buying soda if you post signs near the soda case sh...

Dave Ross

Ross: Study shows aging effects of sugar

My family informs me that no one wants to hear any more studies about sugar, because they've already heard enough.

1 day ago

chef jordan junebaby...

Ursula Reutin

Ursula: Does everyone deserve a second chance? It’s complicated

Seattle chef Edouardo Jordan, once a national media darling after winning two prestigious James Beard awards, appeared on the Gee and Ursula show Tuesday.

1 day ago

(Design by )...

MyNorthwest Video

Video: Seattle Chef Edouardo Jordan responds to sexual misconduct allegations on Gee & Ursula

In 2021, two-time James Beard Award winning Chef Edouardo Jordan was accused by over a dozen women of sexual misconduct at work. Edouardo decided to stay in Seattle, and joined Gee and Ursula to discuss this event and the last couple of years for him.

2 days ago

Seattle drug laws...

Travis Mayfield

Mayfield: Will the Seattle City Council do its job and pass a drug law?

Will today finally be the day the Seattle City Council does its job? Will today finally be the day the Seattle City Council does the bare minimum?

2 days ago


MyNorthwest Video

Video: Gee explains why people should be dating nerds

Gee Scott discussed with Ursula today why ladies should be dating nerdy guys instead of bad boys. Listen to Gee and Ursula, weekdays from 9am to 12pm on KIRO Newsradio 97.3fm!

3 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife...

September is Prostate Cancer Awareness Month

September is a busy month on the sports calendar and also holds a very special designation: Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

Ziply Fiber...

Dan Miller

The truth about Gigs, Gs and other internet marketing jargon

If you’re confused by internet technologies and marketing jargon, you’re not alone. Here's how you can make an informed decision.

Education families...

Education that meets the needs of students, families

Washington Virtual Academies (WAVA) is a program of Omak School District that is a full-time online public school for students in grades K-12.

Emergency preparedness...

Emergency planning for the worst-case scenario

What would you do if you woke up in the middle of the night and heard an intruder in your kitchen? West Coast Armory North can help.

Innovative Education...

The Power of an Innovative Education

Parents and students in Washington state have the power to reimagine the K-12 educational experience through Insight School of Washington.

Medicare fraud...

If you’re on Medicare, you can help stop fraud!

Fraud costs Medicare an estimated $60 billion each year and ultimately raises the cost of health care for everyone.

Mayfield: New laws regulating social media are needed now