Washington D.C., April 4, 2019 —With outdated regulations failing to protect children in a fast-changing media landscape, Common Sense, the leading advocacy organization for kids in the digital age, is working with Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) to craft legislation on children's media. Senator Markey's new legislation, called the Kids Internet Design and Safety (KIDS) Act will be outlined at the second annual Truth About Tech Conference today at Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies. It would address the disconnect between existing laws and today's reality to extend vital values and protections of the 1990 Children's Television Act to cover all media platforms and promote digital well-being.
The action is urgently needed as unregulated media platforms increasingly deliver kids and teens disturbing content with violence, self-harm, profanity, hate speech, and mass shootings.
"Comprehensive legislation on children's media is a step toward addressing the much larger and more pressing reality we all face today: the growing influence of tech on our kids and its unintended consequences," said Jim Steyer, CEO of Common Sense. "We need comprehensive and enforceable rules that reflect the current media landscape to safeguard children's programming and ensure the well-being of kids and generations to come."
"While kids' technology use and media consumption have exploded in recent years, our laws have failed to keep pace," said Senator Markey. "I'm proud to introduced the KIDS Act to combat manipulative design features, unhealthy marketing practices, and the amplification of harmful content that makes the internet a gauntlet of hazards for children today. The internet can be a child's 21st-century playground, and we need to make sure they are safe online. Children and parents deserve new online rules of the road to ensure that children are able to thrive in our increasingly digital world."
The Kids Internet Design and Safety Act will create rules covering all media platforms to:
Stop manipulative and damaging design features that keep kids glued to the screen.
Limit marketing and commercialization; create rules to limit the method and the content of ads that appear in front of kids.
Prevent the amplification of harmful content; enshrine rules to address the use of algorithms that push extreme content in front of kids.
Require platforms to provide parents with clear guidance on kid-healthy content.
Create incentives for positive content creation.
Require transparency and strong enforcement; designate the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to enforce the law.
Research studies by Common Sense show that 98 percent of kids under age 8 have access to a mobile device at home, and teens use an average of nine hours of media daily. In a 2018 survey of parents, 61 percent said their kids either "always," "frequently," or "occasionally" encountered inappropriate videos on YouTube.
Senator Markey is announcing the Kids Internet Design and Safety Act today at the second annual Truth About Tech Conference in Washington D.C., hosted by Common Sense and Georgetown University. Advocates, policymakers, and top industry experts are gathering at the daylong conference to propose solutions for digital well-being.
Launched last year by Common Sense and the Center for Humane Technology, the Truth About Tech campaign was created to address the growing influence of tech and its impact on the social, emotional, and cognitive development our youngest and most vulnerable users: kids. The Kids Internet Design and Safety Act is one of several state and federal legislative solutions for digital well-being that Common Sense is supporting this year. The organization will hold an industry-focused conference in Silicon Valley next month.
About Common Sense
Common Sense is the nation's leading nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in the 21st century. Learn more at commonsense.org.