Sunday, January 16News That Matters

Would You Let Your Kids Play with These Toys? | NYT Opinion

We all know how difficult it can be to close our social media apps and walk away from our devices. Just one more scroll, we tell ourselves. Just one more peek at a link. And then, suddenly, we’re deep down the rabbit hole of yet another feed.

These apps are addictive by design. We know this. And we know full well who’s making a bundle off our weaknesses. (Howdy, Mark Zuckerberg!) But we still can’t help ourselves.

So, if we adults are seemingly powerless in the face of such digital temptation, where does that leave our kids?

In the Opinion Video above, children tell us what they know about how the internet works (not much) and how much they use it (a lot).

“I think I want to get off of this thing,” one young girl confesses, “but then I’m just, like, ‘No! More YouTube! More Instagram! More TikTok!’”

And while kids are experiencing this kind of dopamine rush, tech companies — in a drive to maximize engagement and, thus, profits — are collecting their data without their overt consent while also exposing them to adult content and corrosive peer judgment.

Online privacy regulations in the United States intended to protect young children are either woefully out-of-date or easily circumvented. But pending legislation introduced in May by Senators Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, and Bill Cassidy, Republican of Louisiana, would update those rules by banning targeted advertising aimed at children and raising the age of internet users whose data cannot be collected without their consent from 12 to 15, among other measures.

It’s time, we argue, for the government to modernize the nation’s internet privacy rules, and to do a far better job of safeguarding the internet’s youngest explorers from harm.

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16 Comments

  • Adam Westbrook

    Hey, I'm Adam, one of the producers behind this video for NYT Opinion. We probably all agree that kids shouldn't be allowed into R-rated movies, but we were shocked to discover some of the things they're seeing on Instagram, Tiktok and, yes, YouTube. Our video contains some of those disturbing images and an urgent message to U.S. policymakers.

    What do you think? Is this finally a place where Big Tech needs to be regulated? If you have any questions about the story and how we made it, reply below!

  • Mang Vel Khai

    I am not defending YouTube.
    At least you can pay premium and skip all the ads. Parents should really consider.
    (I don't know what YouTube do the "What We Watch" Data though. So the battle is only half-won.)

  • Fox Among Deli

    Some of this very close to scaremongering and some is downright wrong. The majority of this video covers the “dangers”of the internet intended to create fear and concern to drive clicks. Proven by the title of this video being changed after release because the original was not performing sufficiently. It goes no way to educate parents on how ways to protect their children and in some ways does not even fully explain the risks of the internet. It certainly doesn’t provide any sort of balance, not mentioning the great gain to be had on the internet for individuals of all ages. The majority of the content featuring the children was utterly pointless from and educational standpoint – ant adult can work out that an 8 year old will should to understand the terms and conditions on social media sites, most adults struggle to read them!

  • True Tech

    You want these platforms to 'check 2 pieces of valid ID' at the door of their multi-billion dollar profitable venues, unless you prefer to cater to portholes for the dark web that can't exist without those. We can't determine who exactly the bad people are and all those political arena colluders.
    Kids and everyone that isn't a medically untreated stockholm syndrome affected sociopath should not continue to be treated as acceptable collateral damage for monetary gains.
    Please be safe and be tomorrow, pandemics, homelessness frostbite, starvation, violence, pollution, never produce afterlives no matter what anyone online or offline $ays.
    👁️👁️
    #MeToo 🗽
    #TheDigitalLifeguardProject -_-

  • Michelangelo's afterDavid

    I think we should spend more time with our children. Go to the beach, bike riding and other fun activities that doesn't require a smartphone. Limit and monitor our children's online activities.

  • Muidulla Hussaini

    One of the things I did was turn all my children's account Premium. It's actually the advertisements that are worst than even content. I can still keep tab of what they are watching but not advertisements they are bombarded with. Phew.

  • BtimeC

    Well said. It's sad that people apparently need faux ad examples to get the point. Most parents I know don't care or don't understand what is going on, so things largely remain the same. I hope the NYT does one on smartphones, which every kid is now expected to have. Frustrating dealing with the indifferent parents who go with the flow, forcing others to do the same lest their kid feel left out or isolated. I am not hopeful for the future, especially with the pervasive semi-fanatical tech mentality that is actually pushing more tech, more AI, more synthetic experiences on people (Meta, etc.)

  • The CunninLynguist

    Be a good parent. Monitor. Parental lock if necessary, or use one of those apps/features that time out the device after a certain amount of time. "Kid" friendly apps or profiles aren't safe/enough especially for something like YT, where things will slip through.

  • bourdivin78

    So, parents are as dumb as their kids, but they will decide what is "harmful" or not online? Haha… Protect kids from parents hysterical fantasies… "LEAVE KIDS ALONE"

  • Zizi Roberts

    1. Pay attention. 2. Turn off the television and play a board game. They're watching too many advertisements. 3. Pay attention. 4. Adults are being attacked, too. 5. Pay attention. 6. No social media. 7. No chat rooms. 8. Real life is right in front of you. 9. Pay attention.

  • Woosa X

    They always use "protect our kids" to push for more oppressive laws and surveillance. They don't care about ur kids. They just need u to accept whatever they want to do.

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