Overwhelming Majority Of Voters ‘Very Nervous’ About Social Media’s Impact On Kids: POLL

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Ailan Evans Deputy Editor
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Almost nine in ten voters are very concerned about the impact social media is having on children, according to a new poll.

When asked whether they were “very nervous about the effects social media is having on kids today,” 84% of registered voters said they at least somewhat agreed, according to the results of a poll conducted by Benenson Strategy Group and released Thursday by the Future of Tech Commission. Roughly 6 out of 10 parents polled agreed that they felt like they had no control over what their children see online, while 85% of voters overall supported special online privacy measures for children. (RELATED: Facebook Reveals How It Decides What Content To Suppress)

The poll found strong bipartisan support for increased online protections, with roughly 9 out of 10 voters across party lines supporting stronger privacy laws. Moreover, 85% of Democrats and 74% of Republicans supported reforming Section 230 of the Communications Act to punish social media platforms for hosting “illegal and harmful content,” while 83% of Democrats and 78% of Republicans backed the federal government using its power to curb big tech companies’ privacy intrusions.

“Seeing this kind of agreement among Democrats and Republicans on any issue in the last 10 to 15 years is extremely rare,” Joel Benenson, who served as lead pollster for former President Barack Obama, said when announcing the poll’s results. “Data like this should be eye opening for every lawmaker and impel them to act quickly to protect all Americans, especially children, with tougher privacy measures.”

In this photo illustration, the TikTok app is displayed on an Apple iPhone on August 7, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

In this photo illustration, the TikTok app is displayed on an Apple iPhone on August 7, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

When asked if they supported funding research into long term effects of social media on children online, 77% of voters across party lines agreed. Roughly 9 out of 10 voters thought lawmakers need to better understand technology and privacy issues to protect children.

“This poll demonstrates the urgency for our elected leaders to craft a coordinated tech blueprint for our nation,” James P. Steyer, chief executive of Common Sense Media, said in the announcement. “Americans are united in their desire for the government to protect our families and our democracy from big tech power and hold companies accountable.”

The results of the poll follow a series of revelations published by The Wall Street Journal which shed light on the negative impact the social media platform Instagram had on the self-esteem of teen users. Investigations into Apple and TikTok published in August and September revealed that underage users are exposed to adult and sexually explicit content on the tech platforms.

Lawmakers have also pressed for increased scrutiny of social media’s potential harms in recent weeks, with Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Richard Blumenthal announcing an investigation in early September into the negative effects Instagram has on young users. Sens. Mike Lee and Josh Hawley tore into Facebook Executive Steve Satterfield over the platform’s “dangers” in a Senate hearing Tuesday.

The poll was conducted by Benenson Strategy Group from July 20-29 and sampled 2,016 individuals. The margin of error is plus or minus 2.07%.

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