FRANKFORT, Ky. (March 30, 2022) – Attorney General Daniel Cameron today joined a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general in sending a letter to TikTok and Snapchat urging the companies to implement stronger parental controls within their platforms and to give parents the ability to protect their children from online threats through parental control apps.
“Parental controls provide parents and caregivers with an important tool to help monitor the well-being of their children online,” said Attorney General Cameron. “It is well documented that social media can pose dangers to our youngest citizens, and parents should be empowered to monitor and filter content that they believe is harmful.”
Research increasingly demonstrates the negative impact that social media can have on the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of children and teenagers, ranging from decreased self-esteem and greater body-image dissatisfaction to increased exposure to cyberbullying. One app reported that in 2021 it analyzed more than 3.4 billion messages and found:
- 43.09% of tweens and 74.61% of teens were involved in a self-harm/suicidal situation;
- 68.97% of tweens and 90.73% of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature; and
- 75.35% of tweens and 93.31% of teens engaged in conversations surrounding drugs/alcohol.
In the letter, the attorneys general write, “[p]arental control apps can alert parents or schools to messages and posts on your platforms that have the potential to be harmful and dangerous. Apps can also alert parents if their child manifests a desire for self-harm or suicide. On other platforms where these apps are allowed to operate appropriately parents have received notifications of millions of instances of severe bullying and hundreds of thousands of self-harm situations, showing that these apps have the potential to save lives and prevent harm to our youth.”
Social media platforms already engage in some content moderation and operate under some community guidelines, but these are not always sufficient to protect children and teenagers who are particularly vulnerable to online threats.
This is the latest step Attorney General Cameron has taken to protect Kentucky children from the negative impacts of social media. In November, he co-led a nationwide investigation into Meta Platforms, Inc., formerly known as Facebook, for providing and promoting its social media platform – Instagram – to children and young adults despite knowing that such use is associated with physical and mental health harms. Earlier this month, he also announced a nationwide investigation into TikTok that will look at the harms caused by use of the platform among young users and what TikTok knew about those harms.
Attorney General Cameron was joined by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming in sending this letter.
To view a copy of the letter, click here.