The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Cory Combs, Issue One:
David Monahan, Fairplay:

New poll finds overwhelming public support for bipartisan legislation to protect kids from online harms

Nearly 9 in 10 U.S. voters support the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA) which would adopt responsible safeguards

Bipartisan legislation that would require social media platforms to protect kids and teens from online harms has near universal support across the political spectrum, according to a new poll released today by Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media and Fairplay. The findings come amid growing calls for lawmakers to put responsible safeguards in place to address the harmful impact of social media on young people after another whistleblower came before Congress to testify that Meta knew its products were hurting kids.

In the new poll of U.S. voters, conducted by Hans Kaiser and Associates/Hart Research, 87% of the electorate believes that it is important for the president and Congress to take action to combat the harms being caused by social media platforms. This includes 86% of respondents who voted for former President Trump in the 2020 presidential election, and 88% of voters who supported then-candidate Joe Biden. Nearly all voters (94%) agree that mental health challenges facing children and teens today are a serious problem, and three in four (73%) blame social media and say the platforms have had a negative impact on the mental health of youth over the last 20 years.

Further demonstrating the overwhelming public support for congressional action, 86% of voters support the bipartisan Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), which would require social media platforms to protect minors from specific online harms, such as the promotion of eating disorders, suicide, substance abuse, and sexual exploitation. The bill would provide children and parents with new safeguards, require the strongest safety settings by default, and impose penalties on companies whose design features expose children to these types of harms on their platforms.

“Parents have had enough. They’re doing everything they can to keep their kids safe online, but parents can’t do this alone,” said Alix Fraser, director of Issue One’s Council for Responsible Social Media. “Congress must take action now by passing KOSA into law. Voters are demanding leadership, and it’s time for lawmakers to deliver on their promises and take meaningful steps to keep our children safe online and finally hold tech companies accountable.”

Support for KOSA crosses partisan lines, with 84% of Republicans, 92% of Democrats, and 81% of independents in favor of it. Only 8% of poll respondents expressed opposition to KOSA.

“For years, Big Tech has put profits ahead of kids’ lives while Congress has sat on the sidelines,” said Josh Golin, executive director of Fairplay. “Our nation’s leaders can no longer be silent in the face of a strong bipartisan majority of the public that wants to see strong action to protect young people online. KOSA will make the internet a safer and healthier place for kids and teens.”

More than 90% of all respondents also expressed concern about a wide range of negative impacts social media is having on children and teens, from being vulnerable to online predators to rates of cyberbullying, anxiety, depression, and suicide.

“The American Academy of Pediatrics has long understood the value in the Kids Online Safety Act’s approach to making online environments and experiences healthier and safer for children and teens, and these results make clear that the American public understands the need for the accountability and safeguards KOSA would put in place,” said Mark Del Monte, chief executive officer of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “This robust support for KOSA across nearly every category of public opinion further underscores that now is the time for Congress to act.”

KOSA was introduced earlier this year by Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). The bill was voted unanimously out of the Senate Commerce Committee in July, and has nearly fifty cosponsors from members of both parties. KOSA is currently awaiting a full vote in the Senate.

Fairplay, formerly known as Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, educates the public about commercialism's impact on kids' wellbeing and advocates for the end of child-targeted marketing. Fairplay organizes parents to hold corporations accountable for their marketing practices, advocates for policies to protect kids, and works with parents and professionals to reduce children's screen time.