Former insiders at Facebook and Google are banding together to fight tech addiction in kids. A group of Silicon Valley technologists from the Center for Humane Technology announced Monday a joint project with Common Sense Media to launch an anti-tech-addiction lobbying effort and an ad campaign targeting 55,000 U.S. public schools called “The Truth About Tech.”
The campaign is modeled on anti-smoking campaigns and focuses on the harms of social networks and smartphones for children.
“Tech companies are conducting a massive, real-time experiment on our kids, and, at present, no one is really holding them accountable,” said James P. Steyer, CEO and founder of Common Sense Media.
In a separate effort, child development experts sent a public letter Jan. 30 to Facebook urging the social media company to discontinue its new messaging app for children. The letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, endorsed by more than 100 doctors, educators, and parenting organizations, argued an online messaging app for kids is creating a problem, not responding to one.
The app, released in December, is intended for children under age 13 and acts as an extension of their parents’ account. Facebook has insisted the app was created in consultation with parenting experts and families, allows total parental control over a child’s access, and has no in-app advertising.
But the letter, sent by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, claimed Facebook has an incentive to lure younger and younger users to its platform, something science is increasingly showing has disastrous results. The letter cites research finding social media use in children is linked to depression, less overall satisfaction with life, unhappiness, body insecurity, and unhealthy sleep habits.
“Encouraging kids to move their friendships online will interfere with and displace the face-to-face interactions and play that are crucial for building healthy developmental skills,” the letter stated, “including the ability to read human emotion, delay gratification, and engage with the physical world.” —K.C