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Attorney General William Tong


Attorney General Tong Urges TikTok and Snapchat to Give Parents More Control

(Hartford, CT) -- Attorney General William Tong today joined a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general urging TikTok and Snapchat to give parents the ability to monitor their children’s social media usage and protect their children from online threats using parental control apps.

“Our kids are spending hours a day on these platforms, and as parents we cannot be looking over our kids’ shoulders 24/7. We know kids are being exposed to reckless and hurtful content—including bullying, dangerous challenges, discussions of self-harm, drug use and more. Parental control apps on other platforms are far from perfect, but the give parents at least some ability to monitor and control what our kids are sharing and seeing online. TikTok and Snapchat can and must do more to help parents keep our kids safe online,” said Attorney General Tong.

Research increasingly demonstrates the negative impact that social media can have on the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children and teenagers. These range from decreased self-esteem and greater body-image dissatisfaction to increased exposure to cyberbullying and sexual predation. One app reported that in 2021 it had analyzed more than 3.4 billion messages and found:

43.09% of tweens and 74.61% of teens were involved in a self-harm/suicidal situation,
68.97% of tweens and 90.73% of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature,
75.35% of tweens and 93.31% of teens engaged in conversations surrounding drugs/alcohol,
80.82% of tweens and 94.50% of teens expressed or experienced violent subject matter/thoughts, and
72.09% of tweens and 85.00% of teens experienced bullying as a bully, victim, or witness.

As the attorneys general note in their letter, “Parental control apps can alert parents or schools to messages and posts on your platforms that have the potential to be harmful and dangerous. Apps can also alert parents if their child manifests a desire for self-harm or suicide. On other platforms where these apps are allowed to operate appropriately parents have received notifications of millions of instances of severe bullying and hundreds of thousands of self-harm situations, showing that these apps have the potential to save lives and prevent harm to our youth.”

Social media platforms already engage in some content moderation and operate under some community guidelines, but these are not always sufficient to protect children and teenagers who are particularly vulnerable to online threats, especially with regard to direct messaging. Parental control apps empower parents to be full partners with the platforms to maintain a safe space online for their children.

Attorney General Tong was joined by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Mississippi Attorney General Lynn Fitch and North Carolina Attorney General led the coalition Josh Stein.

Twitter: @AGWilliamTong
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