Today, parents face the difficult task of protecting their children in the digital age. Across the state of Nebraska and the country, parents are attempting to stay up to date with the latest apps and whether they might positively or negatively affect their child. It is time that lawmakers step up and empower parents with the easiest, most common-sense tools that help protect their children online.
A recent study, from the Institute for Family Studies and Gallup, found that today’s teens are most active on YouTube and TikTok compared to other platforms. Individuals on these platforms may attempt to exploit children by exposing them to harmful content and suggesting unsuitable role models if their activity is not closely monitored by their parents.
While connected online, children could find inappropriate content, talk with a stranger, or be bullied by another user—all without their parents’ awareness. In addition to hateful and inappropriate content, many teens reported feelings of body discomfort after using these two apps.
Every day, new apps could help teach your child to read or a quicker way to solve a math problem, but it could also be an app that causes your child to be exposed to non-age appropriate content or allow predators opportunities for exploitation. That is why we need to implement an overarching and easy way for parents to control what apps are being downloaded on their child’s devices.
Congress should consider legislation that would require parental consent before the download of any app on the App Store.
Establishing parental consent within the App Store would be the easiest and most common-sense solution to protecting kids online. Many parents may be unaware of what’s on their child’s phone, so a tool requiring parental approval before a child downloads an app would significantly mitigate the risk of children being exposed to harmful content.
As the primary educators of their own children, it would also empower parents to protect the hearts and minds of their kids. Gallup found when children have a strong relationship with their parents, their social media usage does not predict mental health problems. The requirement of parental consent in the App Store would encourage open conversation between parents and teens regarding their use of each app and a learning opportunity for parents to explain the harms of social media.
The dangers children face online aren’t only a concern in Nebraska. It’s a nationwide problem. Establishing this commonsense solution wouldn’t just protect kids online; it would also reinstate parents’ right to protect their own kids.
Congress can put parents back in the driver’s seat by pushing legislation to require parental consent in the App Store. We hope to see Nebraska’s Congregational Delegation lead the way in supporting legislation that will put the power back into parents’ hands across our state and nation.