Newsmakers: Rep. Kristin Robbins Talks About Social Media and Kids
State Rep. Kristin Robbins (R-Maple Grove) has been talking to constituents and local schools about social media and kids. She held two listening sessions this fall to talk to parents and students about the impacts of social media on youth mental health and education.
“There’s increasing amounts of research coming out showing that the time kids spend on social media in particular, but technology in general is harmful to their mental health,” said Robbins. “Kids who spend too much time on technology, particularly social media have increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicide and self harm like eating disorders.”
Maple Grove Middle School recently went to cell-phone free school day. Robbins applauded the initiative.
“I am so proud of Maple Grove Middle School,” said Robbins. “They are the first school in my district to have a cell-phone free school day and that’s not just during instructional time, that’s during the entire school day. It’s brought tremendous benefit to the students and to the teachers and the parents who are seeing results.”
Robbins says that leadership has reported more engagement with teachers and students and “less drama” by way of bullying and fights.
To learn more, Robbins suggests that people check out the researcher Jonathan Haidt and his work on social media, technology and children. She shared a few of his articles (one from The Atlantic and another from The Guardian) on social media and technology use with superintendents in her district before the school year began.
“I continue to ask leadership in our school districts to consider that,” said Robbins. “I do think this is a local decision. I’m not at this point pushing for a state mandate, but the research is clear and this is such low-hanging fruit where we can take concrete steps right now to help kids’ mental health. I encourage everyone to do it.”
Robbins Authors Bill Banning Social Media Algorithms Targeting Kids
Robbins has been working on a bipartisan bill to address social media and children. The Stop Online Targeting Against (SOTA) Kids Act (HF 1503) would bar social media companies from targeting Minnesota kids under 18 with unsolicited content.
Kids would still be able to have accounts and like or follow whoever they want, but social media companies would no longer be able to barrage them with additional unsolicited content based on algorithmic recommendations from their age, location, or information gleaned from behavior on social media, like “likes” and “follows.”
“I do think it’s going to move forward. I’m hoping to get it all across the finish line this year,” said Robbins.