Hochul holds social media & mental health roundtable with local students

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Governor Kathy Hochul was in town Friday to speak with local high school students about the effect social media has on mental health.

“One student told me – not here, but at another school – you’ve got to save us from ourselves, because we don’t know how to turn this off,” Hochul said.

The governor has been holding round table discussions across New York State. Friday, she sat down with a group of students from Williamsville East High school as Hochul touts two pieces of legislation that would restrict social media sites.

The first – the New York Child Data Protection Act – aims to prohibit online sites from collecting, using, sharing or selling personal data from anyone under the age of 18.

The Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act requires social media companies to prohibit those younger than 18-years-old to see content curated by using algorithms. Instead, teens would have a default chronological feed from users they already follow, unless allowed by parental consent. Parents also would have the ability to block access to social media platforms between 12 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Lawmakers in favor of this bill say the amount of time teens spend on these sites leads to negative mental health outcomes.

“I have to [disable] my Instagram sometimes or delete it because sometimes it can be a lot for me,” said Aniyah Ramadan, a senior at Will East.

She was among those part of Friday’s round table discussion, and said while she has learned when to step away from social media, she understands some of her peers have not.

“I pull away from social media when things get rough for me,” she said.

Gov. Hochul said she plans to take what she heard today back to Albany, where she’s hoping lawmakers pass these bills before the legislative session goes into recess.

Marlee Tuskes is an award-winning anchor and reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2019. See more of her work here and follow her on Twitter.

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