Statements
2023

New Poll Shows Dangers of Social Media Design for Young Americans, Sparks Renewed Call for Tech Regulation

For Immediate Release
March 29, 2023
Contact: press@accountabletech.org

 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — New polling released today by Accountable Tech and LOG OFF finds that the design of social media and online platforms is actively harming U.S. teens — adding further evidence for why design reforms outlined in the Age Appropriate Design Code are desperately needed to protect kids online.

The survey, which was conducted by YouGov and polled 912 American teenagers in March 2023, found that:

  • 74% find themselves scrolling for too long.

  • 59% get pulled back into apps after they log off by push notifications every day.

  • 66% feel they are losing track of time on social media, with Black and Hispanic teenagers being disproportionately affected.

  • Almost 50% lose sleep because they feel ‘stuck’ on social media.

  • Only 8% were never recommended to follow a stranger.

  • Over 50% bought things they didn’t really want due to targeted ads.

  • Over 75% received ads for things they just talked about.

Addictive design features like endless scroll, algorithms feeding harmful content, and manipulative advertising lead to an unsafe environment for teens online. These polling numbers make the case for why laws that regulate design – for instance, restricting tech companies’ ability to use and sell data from underage users – are needed to create a safer experience for young people online.

The Age Appropriate Design Code was passed in California last year, and similar proposals are pending in Nevada, Maryland, and Minnesota. Similar design codes have already been passed across the world in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

“We now have even more evidence showing how platform design is at the core of the mental health and addiction crises that kids in America face,” said Emma Lembke, Founder of LOG OFF, a youth-led organization that advocates for healthy use of social media. “The misguided social media bans being put in place in states like Utah put the responsibility on parents and kids – that is absolutely the wrong approach. Tech companies created this crisis and should be held responsible for undoing the harms they’ve caused through the design features of their platforms. That’s why we need thoughtful, design-focused legislation like the Age Appropriate Design Code that prioritizes kids’ and teens’ privacy, safety, and well-being by design.”

“Big Tech companies are actively putting profits before the health and wellbeing of kids — and the results are even worse than we thought,” said Nicole Gill, Executive Director of Accountable Tech. “We urge policymakers to listen to the voices of children and teens in this important conversation, and commit to thoughtful guardrails that will keep them safe online.”

Read the full poll results here.

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