Attorney General Nessel Joins Coalition Urging More Control for Parents on TikTok, Snapchat

Attorney General Dana Nessel and a bipartisan coalition of 44 attorneys general have written to TikTok and Snapchat to urge them to give parents the ability to monitor their children’s social media usage and protect them from online threats using parental control apps.

“I remain very concerned about social media’s impact on the mental and physical health of young people,” Nessel said. “We live in a time when everything is shared on social media. Not only does that foster a comparison culture in which our kids are constantly exposed to unrealistic beauty standards, it also exposes them to the hateful rhetoric spewed by those who hide behind keyboards. I will continue to join efforts with my colleagues across the country aimed at protecting kids online.”

In addition to joining the coalition, Nessel previously joined investigations into TikTok and Meta (formerly Facebook). Nessel also remains firm in her stance that Instagram should not launch a platform specifically for kids under the age of 13.

Research shows the negative impact that social media can have on the physical, emotional and mental well-being of children and teens. These range from decreased self-esteem and greater body-image dissatisfaction to increased exposure to cyberbullying and sexual predation.

Bark, which monitors social platforms for safety concerns, reported that in 2021 it had analyzed more than 3.4 billion messages. It found the following statistics:

  • 43.09% of tweens and 74.61% of teens were involved in a self-harm/suicidal situation;
  • 68.97% of tweens and 90.73% of teens encountered nudity or content of a sexual nature;
  • 75.35% of tweens and 93.31% of teens engaged in conversations surrounding drugs/alcohol;
  • 80.82% of tweens and 94.50% of teens expressed or experienced violent subject matter/thoughts; and
  • 72.09% of tweens and 85.00% of teens experienced bullying as a bully, victim, or witness.

In their letter, the attorneys general state, “Parental control apps can alert parents or schools to messages and posts on your platforms that have the potential to be harmful and dangerous. Apps can also alert parents if their child manifests a desire for self-harm or suicide. On other platforms where these apps are allowed to operate appropriately parents have received notifications of millions of instances of severe bullying and hundreds of thousands of self-harm situations, showing that these apps have the potential to save lives and prevent harm to our youth.”