WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: Hundreds Of Organizations & Advocates Voice Support For Kids Online Safety Act

May 2, 2023

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced the Kids Online Safety Act, comprehensive bipartisan legislation to protect children online and hold Big Tech accountable.

Advocacy Organizations Praise The Kids Online Safety Act

Dawn Hawkins, CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, said, “It is critical that children be protected from online harms, which continue to grow and threaten their safety and overall well-being. The Kids Online Safety Act requires that online tech platforms put children’s interest first – a foundational component to online child protection.”

Sandy Chung, President of the American Academy of Pediatrics, said, “As pediatricians, we know that the environments in which children and teens live, learn, and play have a profound impact on their health and long-term trajectory, but for too long we haven't given enough attention to the digital spaces where young people spend so much of their time. Platforms that are designed to maximize a young user’s time online with manipulative design features like autoplay and endless scroll or deliver personalized content to keep them engaged are at odds with children and teens’ developmental needs. The Kids Online Safety Act is a major step toward creating a more developmentally appropriate digital ecosystem. By requiring companies to design their platforms in the best interests of youth and giving families greater control over their online experience, we can build a better internet for children and teens. The American Academy of Pediatrics commends Sens. Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Blackburn (R-Tenn.) for their bipartisan work on this legislation and looks forward to supporting its passage.”

Arthur C. Evans Jr., CEO of the American Psychological Association (APA), said, “The American Psychological Association has provided Congress with psychological research demonstrating the impact of social media on children and adolescents. The Kids Online Safety Act takes important steps toward curtailing the harms posed to youth by social media use and content, while seeking to retain the benefits. The legislation also creates important new access for psychological researchers to data held by social media companies that is essential to further understanding the platforms’ impact on children. We look forward to working with Congress to pass the Kids Online Safety Act.” 

Brad Wilcox, Director of the National Marriage Project, said, “The Kids Online Safety Act is an important step in the direction of protecting kids from the worst excesses of Big Tech. By requiring social media companies to incorporate a range of default protections for kids, creating guardrails for parents regarding their kids’ social media use, and mandating that companies do more to keep malicious content off their platforms, the Kids Online Safety Act will reduce the risks that children and families have to navigate in the virtual world. Given the surge we have seen in anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide among teens in the last decade, this legislation is needed now more than ever.”

Kris Perry, Executive Director of the Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development, said, "Children and Screens Institute of Digital Media and Child Development applauds Senators Blumenthal and Blackburn for the introduction of the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) of 2023, and for their commitment to improving children's online health and well-being. As a research institute, Children and Screens supports the provisions in the bill that will give much needed access to academic and research organizations to critical datasets from online platforms. This data will help bridge the existing knowledge gap between researchers, clinicians, and other experts so they can conduct scientific research to help parents and caregivers understand the overarching impact social media has on child development. We appreciate the Senators' efforts to protect children in this increasingly complicated digital world.”

Digital Progress Institute, said, “Our children are taking a significant risk when going online, especially young women. Online predators continually use social media sites to recruit and sell young girls for sex — 59 percent of recruitments (65 percent of which involve children) happened on Facebook alone. Yet, tech companies frequently use government-created protections as a sword to provide them with immunity from liability, even if they are accused of participating in child sex trafficking. If passed, the Kids Online Safety Act will provide more safeguards to ensure children are safe when using these Big Tech services and will keep these trillion-dollar giants accountable when they fall short. The Digital Progress Institute welcomes this much-needed reform to our laws.”

Laura Donahue, Vice President, Board of Directors for the Eating Disorders Coalition for Research, Policy, & Action, said, “The EDC is proud to endorse the Kids Online Safety Act to ensure young users are protected from dangerous pro-eating disorders and suicidal content. As a mother of a daughter who was continually targeted with harmful content but has thankfully recovered from her eating disorder, it is an honor to have worked tirelessly on this bill.”

Wired Human, said, "The Kids Online Safety Act is not just setting a new precedent for child online safety; it is a statement to the world that children are precious and worthy of our nation's best efforts to protect them. In the words of 14-year-old Wynn, 'Our innocence isn't a free market to be bought, sold, and exploited. We are human beings, not products to make money off of. We are not products; we are the future.' The Kids Online Safety Act demands a higher standard that values childhood as a sacred institution deserving our most determined efforts.” 

Laurel Lehman, Policy Analyst for Consumer Reportssaid, “The Kids Online Safety Act will enact long-needed baseline responsibilities and transparency requirements on tech platforms. The legislation aims to address the breadth of problems that children—and consumers of all ages—face online because platforms have repeatedly failed to take sufficient responsibility for their product design choices. Consumer Reports supports the introduction of the Kids Online Safety Act, and thanks Senators Blumenthal and Blackburn for their leadership on this issue. CR looks forward to working with Congress to secure a healthier, more robust online information ecosystem for all Americans.”

Marc Berkman, CEO of Organization for Social Media Safety, said, “While public awareness of the threat social media can pose to children is slowly taking root, the striking severity and pervasiveness of the actual harms are still not generally understood. Yet the evidence clearly shows that social media-related cyberbullying, sexual predation, substance abuse, and suicide, among other threats, are harming millions of children across the United States. Despite all these lives lost and all the broken families, the harm endures while the social media industry looks on, unwilling to protect its young users. That is why the Kids Online Safety Act is such necessary, urgently needed legislation. The Organization for Social Media Safety thanks Senators Blackburn and Blumenthal for leading this life-saving effort and calls on Congress to pass the Kids Online Safety Act without delay.

Josh Golin, Executive Director for Fairplay, said, “For far too long, Big Tech has been allowed to play by their own rules in a relentless pursuit of profit, with little regard for the damage done to the children and teens left in their wake. Companies like Meta and TikTok have made billions from hooking young people on their products by any means necessary, even promoting dangerous challenges, pro-eating disorder content, violence, drugs, and bigotry to the kids on their platforms. We are grateful to Senators Blackburn and Blumenthal for introducing this groundbreaking legislation, which will help create an internet where children and teens can explore, socialize and learn without being caught in Big Tech's crossfire.

Chris Griswold, Policy Director for American Compass, said, “The verdict is in: Social media is harming children. Silicon Valley has proven that it consistently puts profits above the emotional and mental health of children, above keeping kids safe from dangerous and damaging content, and above preventing the harms caused by hijacking kids’ attention. Senators Blackburn and Blumenthal deserve great credit for deciding to do something about it. American parents and children need help, and the Kids Online Safety Act is an important, admirable, and badly needed step towards delivering it to them.”

Melissa Henson, Vice President of the Parents Television and Media Council, said, “The burden of protection cannot be placed solely on parents – the challenges are too great. Children are up against social media algorithms that can feed harmful content to children on repeat and against corporate interests that market explicit content to children without repercussions. The technology and entertainment industries must be held accountable for ensuring protection. Congress should take up and pass the Kids Online Safety Act, designed to hold social media companies accountable and establish a duty of care for protecting children online. The time to act is now.”

Heritage Action, said, “In terms of user control, the Kids Online Safety Act's emphasis on platform-generated controls allows for additional user empowerment. A common theme in Heritage Foundation analysis, this linchpin of the bill provides a framework for digital platforms to follow when designing products used by children. In addition, it would help institute necessary technical safeguards that include privacy by design, opt-in features, and stringent default settings. Many studies shown the dangers that social media poses to children. Senator Blackburn's Kids Online Safety Act is a common sense solution to address those concerns and start protecting our next generation.”

Tammy Grissom, Executive Director of the Tennessee School Boards Association, said, “Many children in Tennessee face challenges on a regular basis that are exacerbated by harmful online interactions. We believe protecting children by requiring safeguards that help parents identify these damaging behaviors and mitigate potential risks will have a positive impact on all students.”


Parents & Youth Advocates Express Urgency For The Kids Online Safety Act

 Larissa May, Founder of #HalfThestory, said, “The average teenager spends 7.5 hours on digital platforms (Common Sense Media). We have condoms for sex, cars with seat belts… yet we have no standard of safety for the place that the average American teen is spending 8 hours a day. The Digital Rights Revolution is unfolding before our eyes and the world is counting on the Kids Online Safety Act to be the first national step forward. In simple terms, the Kids Online Safety Act is a seatbelt for social media.”

Emma Lembke, Co-Chair of Design It For Us Coalition; Founder of Log-OFF Movement (20 years old)said, “We as young people are not going to be passive victims of Big Tech. Ten years from now social media will not be what it is today, it will be what people of my generation build it to be. We want to build it differently, we want to build it right. We will continue to raise our voices and fight to hold Big Tech accountable for its profit-driven harm. That’s why I am thankful that our legislators are seeing the dire need to have this fight, and are introducing the Kids Online Safety Act. It will take all of us to go up against the behemoth force that is Big Tech, and I’m glad to join forces with lawmakers and my fellow advocates in that fight.”

Zamaan Qureshi, Co-Chair of Design It For Us Coalition, Policy Advisor for Real Facebook Oversight Board (20 years old), said, “The Kids Online Safety Act would create much needed accountability for Big Tech companies and platforms, and actually provide us with tools and options to protect our profiles by default. It would give us the ability to opt-out of algorithmic recommendations that direct us towards triggering images or accounts, and disable addictive features that send us down a rabbit hole and shape how we feel about ourselves. The Kids Online Safety Act tells Big Tech companies that they must design their products with the user in mind - us."

Maurine Molak, Parent Survivor and Co-founder, David’d Legacy Foundation, said, “I fully support the Kids Online Safety Act because as a mother who lost her 16-year-old son David to suicide after months of relentless cyberbullying, I understand the critical need to require social media companies to implement a duty of care to prevent and mitigate online harms to minors. It is imperative that we no longer allow profits to be more important than the lives of young Americans.”

Kristin Bride, Parent Survivor and Social Media Reform Advocate, said, “After the tragic death of my 16-year-old son Carson to suicide after being cyberbullied over anonymous apps which have a long history of leading to teen suicides, I fully support the reintroduction of the Kids Online Safety Act because it puts the responsibility on the social media companies to fix their toxic products and have a duty of care to our children.”

LaQuanta Hernandez, a Texas Mother and School Administrator said, “Our daughter experienced traumatizing racial harassment on Instagram and TikTok, who did not act to protect her from her tormentors. This is why I am urging Congress to pass the Kids Online Safety Act. It would require platforms to provide minors and parents like me with easy-to-use reporting tools and to respond to reports like our daughter’s in a timely manner. I'm lucky -- my daughter is recovering from this incident and her mental health is in a much better place, but legislators must act to protect children from the preventable harms they are suffering every day on social media.”

Judy Rogg, California Parent, said, “My son, Erik Robinson, died from an online challenge in April 2010 at the age of 12. Back then we had no idea that social media apps were targeting kids with these kinds of things. Social Media remains an unregulated industry and continues to harm kids by disseminating whatever it chooses to kids. I strongly support the Kids Online Safety Act as a vital step forward to protecting kids from all the dangers propagated across all online/social media platforms and holding these platforms accountable.”

Lynn Creasy, California Parent, said, “My young adult children have both been victims of severe mental health challenges that big tech has chosen to ignore by choosing profit over safety. I also have many friends who have lost their children to the evils of social media online harms. I am in full support of the Kids Online Safety Act!” 

Neveen Radwan, California Parent, said, “My 15-year-old daughter nearly died multiple times after being diagnosed with anorexia, and is still struggling three years later. Because social media played a significant role in triggering her illness, I am STRONGLY supporting the Kids Online Safety Act.”

Sharon Winkler, Georgia Parent, said, “Families in the United States need the protections afforded by the Kids Online Safety Act that requires online platforms to have a legal "Duty of Care" to protect the mental health of minor users. Your update of this requirement, to ensure that online platforms do not cause or worsen mental health disorders in young people, is long overdue.”

Rose Bronstein, Illinois Parent, said, “My son Nate Bronstein was viciously attacked, hazed, humiliated and threatened with physical and deadly harm over Snapchat messages. He received a Snapchat message that read “Go Kill Yourself.” I lost my son Nate Bronstein to suicide on January 13, 2022. I support the Kids Online Safety Act because unmonitored, deregulated social media platforms, specifically those that are marketed to children, are dangerous and deadly environments. Social media platforms need to be held to the highest standards of safety that protect our children, just like infant car seats, cribs and children’s toys. Suppliers of these products are all required to meet the highest levels of safety standards to ensure that they do not cause harm to our precious children. Social media platforms need to be held to the same standards.”

Christine McComas, Maryland Parent, said, “I believe the Kids Online Safety Act is desperately needed to protect and save the lives of U.S. children. A joy-filled child from birth, our beloved daughter Grace was an active, communicative, and well-adjusted teen until an uninvestigated drug-assisted sexual assault at 14, followed by malicious, hate-filled, and death-wishing cyber abuse for which we could not get help and which she found inescapable. Losing her to suicide on Easter Sunday 2012 devastated our family and community but galvanized us to speak out to make change, in the form of Maryland's Grace's Law Against Cyberbullying (a criminal statute passed in 2013 and updated in 2019.) Yet here we are a decade later and children are still dying from various online harms. It has become clear to me that right now, even the best, most engaged parents remain unable to keep their kids safe online. This is unconscionable and there is no time to waste.”

Bridgette Norring, Minnesota Parent, said, “Three-years ago my 19-year-old son, Devin Norring, was deceived to death by a drug dealer operating and advertising fake pills on Snapchat. The Percocet Devin received and thought he was taking contained 100% pure illicit fentanyl. My family supports the Kids Online Safety Act since social media companies have been preying on our children with harmful algorithms, faulty reporting features, geo-mapping features that drug dealers and other nefarious criminals use to locate our children, and much more for far too long.”

Brian Montgomery, Mississippi Parent, said, “My son, Walker Montgomery, committed suicide from sextortion on December 1, 2022. We support the Kids Online Safety Act because it provides regulations to tech companies that will help shield minors from criminal activity. I especially support the provision to prevent out-of-network individuals from messaging our children. This would have prevented this threat from ever reaching our son.”

Erin Popolo, New Jersey Parent, said, “My daughter Emily’s life was ended much too soon because of the cyber bullying done to her over Instagram and Snapchat, which is a tragedy in and of itself. Our story now includes a zoom bombing of her funeral by individuals who felt the need to continue to torture and harass her family and her memory. Because our story could have been different had there been some protections in place, I choose to support KOSA, the Kids Online Safety Act.”

Tawainna Anderson, Pennsylvania Parent, said, “My daughter, Nylah Anderson, passed away from the blackout challenge that was suggested, fed, and targeted to her on her “For You” page. As a mother I have experienced the worst thing that possibly could happen, and I live with that grief every day. But it has also impassioned me. I know that my purpose is now to fight for families and kids to prevent tragedy from ever occurring again which is why I support the Kids Online Safety Act.”

Dawn Wible, Texas Parent, said, "As an online safety educator and a mom of three boys who are ages 10, 14, and 16, I have seen the harm kids face firsthand in the schools and communities I’ve worked with for the past ten years. The burden of a safer internet cannot be solely on the shoulders of parents, kids, and teens. It is because of this that I’m supporting the Kids Online Safety Act.”

Jeff van Lith, Washington Parent, said, “I support the Kids Online Safety Act because my child was taken from me due to online content he was exposed to that was so avoidable. It’s too late for me, but it’s not too late for the next child.”

Annie McGrath, Wisconsin Parent, said, “I lost my extraordinary son, Griffin, in 2018 to an online challenge he had found on YouTube called ‘the pass-out challenge.’ Since then, I have been reporting challenges where kids are actively choking themselves daily. Legislation is paramount as the same videos are up 5 years later while new children are dying of the same challenge every day. I beg of Congress to pass the Kids Online Safety Act in honor of not only my son, but the thousands of precious children gone too soon.”

Click here for more information about the Kids Online Safety Act.