Support the California Age Appropriate Design Code Act!

California State Assembly

Two young kids look at cell phones.
Taylor McKaela

The time kids spend on social media platforms that are designed to line the pockets of tech companies, not protect the youngest and most vulnerable users, is having a big impact on kids’ lives and health.

• 75% of the top social media platforms use AI to recommend children’s profiles to strangers.

• Leaked Instagram documents said the platform is exacerbating body image problems for 1 in 3 teen girls. 6% of US teens link their interest in suicide directly to the platform.

• Average screen time for American teens increased by 17% in the last two years to over 8.5 hours a day.

The California Age Appropriate Design Code is a bipartisan bill that would make tech companies design their products to be safe for children by design and default.

We know this bill works. The UK law it is based on has already prompted Silicon Valley’s biggest names to innovate in the best interests of British children.

Tell the Assembly that Californian children deserve these protections too. Support the California Age Appropriate Design Code Act.

Sponsored by

To: California State Assembly
From: [Your Name]

We, the undersigned, are parents, grandparents, teachers, medical professionals, and other concerned Californians writing to support the California Age Appropriate Design Code Act (AB 2273, Buffy Wicks-D and Jordan Cunningham-R).

Kids are in crisis, fueled by social media and tech. Social media induced harms such as depression, cyberbullying, eating disorders, dangerous viral “challenges,” exposure to drug use and to predators have all resulted in life-threatening consequences for children. Teens who spend five or more hours a day on social media are 71% more likely to have one or more risk factors for suicide than those who spend less than an hour a day. And it’s only getting worse. According to the U.S. Surgeon General’s office, during the pandemic, children’s non-school screen time more than doubled.

This is by design. Social media companies engineer their products for profit. Their algorithms, constant notifications, and endless scrolling keep users on the platforms for as long and often as possible. These manipulative tactics harm users, especially the youngest and most vulnerable. Ensuring the safety of tech products in regard to children is way overdue. Imagine what would happen to a beer company that knew their product was being sold to 11-year-olds and did nothing, or a movie theater that was letting 9-year-olds sneak into R-rated movies. We don’t tolerate other industries promoting harmful products to kids and we shouldn’t accept it from Big Tech.

More than 80% of Americans say they want legislation that requires social media platforms to take steps to minimize harms to minors. California has the opportunity to lead the nation in protecting children online and prioritizing young people’s mental, physical, and emotional health over profits for private companies.

The best part? Design codes work to protect children. The UK implemented the Age Appropriate Design Code in September 2021. Since then, tech companies have made changes to products that children use to ensure their data isn’t needlessly collected, they are not deceived by dark patterns, and that product design is not detrimental to their health and well-being.

We call on California lawmakers to put children’s interests ahead of those of the tech industry by supporting the Age Appropriate Design Code Act.