Ross: If you hope the government will save kids from social media, think again

May 20, 2024, 2:09 PM | Updated: May 22, 2024, 2:58 am

Image: In this photo illustration, the logos of social media applications Instagram, Facebook, Link...

In this photo illustration, the logos of social media applications Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Messenger, Hyperlapse and Telegram are displayed on a cellphone screen on April 26, 2023 in Rio de Janeiro. (Photo illustration: Buda Mendes, Getty Images)

(Photo illustration: Buda Mendes, Getty Images)

By law, social media company TikTok must sell itself to a non-Chinese company within a year, or it goes dark in the U.S.

But that law is headed straight to federal court, and we could have a whole new government by the time there’s a verdict in that case.

That tells me those of you who are hoping the government will save your kids from social media will need a Plan B.

My generation didn’t have social media growing up, but we had something almost as scary – we were the guinea pigs for television. TV taught us smoking was healthy, had us playing Cowboys and Indians with cap pistols, and spread rock and roll music, which caused some of us to have sex and get muddy at Woodstock.

(I say “some” of us – because I had a job that summer and missed Woodstock.)

More from Dave Ross: Social media companies must be responsible for content they broadcast

How television and companies like TikTok differ

But the big difference between TV and social media – was that the TV was in the living room, and we usually watched with our parents, and they had the power to shut it off at any time.

Social media works even under the covers.

There was a vigorous discussion about in The New York Times, and I want to read this comment from a reader named CC, writing from Paris, who says:

“I am a tech founder and … Knowing tech, the idea that a social media platform will adequately shield your child from questionable content …is laughable.  Even if they wanted to, it is vastly difficult (and with no financial return to please shareholders). There is an indescribable amount of terrible content on TikTok, Instagram and YouTube … because PEOPLE WATCH IT…

As a parent, the idea that any responsible human would give their child unhindered access to a phone and social media for five to six hours per day is terrifying.  At the risk of sounding judgmental, the correct amount of social media time for people under 16 is zero. I desperately wish we could clean up the internet for our young people, but it’s not going to happen. WE… the adults, need to guard … our young people from online perils, just like we would stop them from wandering around alone at night in a bad neighbourhood.”

Other readers replied that they tried getting kids off social media but, “it’s close to impossible.”

Dave Ross content: We built it, and they had better come

My kids are grown. I’m in no position to give advice.  But I agree – social media companies won’t change their business model, and the government isn’t coming to the rescue.  So your choice is to surrender, or get those kids hooked on safer media alternatives.

I’d suggest radio. It’s free, it’s instant, and it’s everywhere – although, I’d stick to the talk stations.  The music stations are still all about the sex.

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.

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Ross: If you hope the government will save kids from social media, think again