[ Fighting for you ]

Union joins fight to keep kids safe online


YSUT President Melinda Person lent her voice to the call for keeping students safe online. Sponsored by the advocacy group Keep Kids Safe Online, the mid-March press conference called for passing two bills that would prevent big tech from tracking, collecting and selling young people’s personal data to third parties, a practice that generates addictive feeds that keep kids tethered to their devices.

girl with blanket around shoulders on phone in the dark with white and yellow typography describing dangers of time spent on social media
“We need our state to stand up and take action to protect our students,” said Person, who cited a NYSUT survey that found 78 percent of teachers report that cellphone and social media use negatively impacts their students’ mental health. Although educators are concerned about the impact of social media on their students, they don’t want to be the cellphone police, they want to provide classroom instruction, continued Person. “We must have guardrails to protect our children … and we can’t expect big tech to put them in place on their own.”
NYSUT President Melinda Person speaking at podium while surrounded by signs discussing online safety for kids
El-Wise Noisette
NYSUT President Melinda Person voices the union’s support for two bills that would keep big tech from tracking, collecting and selling students’ personal data to third parties. The bills are sponsored by the advocacy group Keep Kids Safe Online.
State Attorney General Tish James also voiced her support. “These are good bills that will protect our children and be models for the rest of the nation and the world to follow,” said James. “Because when New York gets involved, we tend to lead the nation … we’ve got a duty and an obligation to protect these young individuals from the harms of social media, and I’m honored to stand with my colleagues.”

Sponsored by State Sen. Andrew Gounardes and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, the NY Child Data Protection Act stops online sites from collecting and selling children’s data; the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act protects children and teens from addictive algorithms on social media by allowing users under 18 and their parents to opt out of algorithm-driven feeds. Both bills are supported by Gov. Kathy Hochul.

Visit the NYSUT MAC, mac.nysut.org, to email your lawmakers about supporting the SAFE for Kids Act and the New York Child Data Protection Act.