Big Tech under scrutiny as lawmakers push for stronger online safeguards for children

TikTok has become the latest tech company to undergo scrutiny for its impact on children.

On Wednesday, California State Attorney General Rob Bonta announced a nationwide investigation in whether TikToK is violating the law promoting its video sharing platform to children.

"Our children are growing up in the age of social media - and many feel like they need to measure up to the filtered versions of reality that they see on their screens," said Attorney General Bonta

It comes on the heels of President Joe Biden's State of the Union calling on Congress to improve safety for children online.

"It's time to strengthen privacy protections, ban targeted advertisement to children, demand tech companies stop collecting personal data on our children," Biden said Tuesday night.

His mother promised him $1,800 when he turned 18 - if he stayed off social media for 6 years
EMBED More News Videos

Lorna Goldstrand Klefsaas promised to pay her 12-year-old son Sivert $1,800 to stay off social media until he was 18. He claimed his prize on February 19, 2022.

Two California law makers are already working to hold Big Tech accountable with a bill requiring stronger privacy protections and safeguards for children as they surf the internet.

"When we are dealing with kids whose brains are still forming I think it is important that we put in as many guardrails as possible to keep them safe," said Assemblywoman Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland).

Wicks and her Republican colleague, Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, put forth the California Age Appropriate Design Code bill in February. Their proposal is modeled after a 2020 law in the United Kingdom which forced tech companies to make changes.

"Since their bill was signed into law you know, Google has made safe search the default browsing mode for kids under the age of 18, YouTube has turned off autoplay for users under the age of 18, TikTok does not push notifications after a certain time," Wicks said.

Children are particularly vulnerable to social media according to Developmental Psychologist and Professor Kalina Michalska with UC Riverside.

"(It) effects their own self-esteem, their body image, this kind of information can influence the way adolescents and kids view themselves, look at themselves, look at others," said Michalska.

Assemblymembers Wicks and Cunningham bill has bipartisan support. If passed, it would ensure that digital products and service for children are safe by design and by default.

"There are some addictive qualities to our technology right now that I think we really need to contend with it," said Wicks.
Copyright © 2022 KABC Television, LLC. All rights reserved.