Sports Betting and AI Bots for Kids, Media Literacy Concerns, and the Ongoing Legal Battle Over Social Media Harming Kids

Words by
Jake Cutler

FEB 15, 2024

Sports Betting and AI Bots for Kids, Media Literacy Concerns, and the Ongoing Legal Battle Over Social Media Harming Kids

This week’s batch of safe-tech stories includes some good and not-quite-sure-if-its-good AI news, some more apps to be aware of as parents, another battle in the war between politicians and Big Tech, and more.

New York City Sues Social Media Platforms

New York City is suing several social media platforms, claiming they are violating local consumer protection laws and causing harm to young users’ mental health. 

The lawsuit alleges that platforms including TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram are designed to be addictive, leading to negative impacts such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among children and teens.

This legal action underscores the ongoing concerns about the effects of social media on youth, calling for stronger regulations and corporate responsibility.

CNN | New York City sues social media platforms over youth mental health crisis

Unregulated Sports Betting Apps Are a Risk for Kids

Sports betting has exploded following a 2018 Supreme Court ruling legalizing it in 38 states — and experts now worry about the impact on kids.

Despite minimum betting ages of 18 or 21, many underage Americans are making bets through unregulated apps like PrizePicks, Underdog Fantasy, and Fliff.

Considering college-aged students are more than twice as likely to be pathological gamblers, parents should be aware of the risk this poses to teens.

The Washington Post | Fliff and other ‘social sportsbooks’ offer betting to young fans

Global Survey Shows Most Adults Agree Big Tech Should be Held Responsible for Online Safety

A large-scale global survey revealed that concerns about social media’s impact on children and teens are not limited to parents alone and there is a strong demand for tech companies to design safer, age-appropriate products that collect less personal data.

The online survey of more than 14,000 adults ages 18 to 75 was conducted by the global non-profit organization, Project Liberty Foundation.

Project Liberty Foundation | Publics Around the World: Kids – and Parents – Need a Safer Internet

Media Literacy Education Lacking In The United States

Considering the amount of time kids spend on screens today, media literacy has become an increasingly crucial skill for young people to master.

A new report, however, finds that media literacy education in America has a long way to go.

Defined as, “The ability to access, analyze, evaluate, create, and act using all forms of communication,” The National Association for Media Literacy reports that “even in [the 18] states with media literacy education policy, proper resources and up-to-date curriculum remain lacking.”

National Association for Media Literacy | Snapshot 2024: The State of Media Literacy Education in the U.S.

AI-powered Toys for Kids?

AI-powered toy makers are looking to transform playtime and learning for children through personalized education and entertainment. 

High-end toys (i.e. expensive) use advanced AI to interact with kids, support developmental milestones, answer questions, and even provide mental health support. 

The upsides sound intriguing but concerns over data privacy exist and large bodies of research show some things just can’t beat good old fashioned human interaction, especially for kids.

The Hustle | Bots for tots: AI-powered children’s toys are talking back

Federal Judge Blocks Ohio Law Against Social Media 

A federal judge has paused an Ohio law requiring parental consent for kids under the age of 16 to use social media accounts

The law was challenged by NetChoice, who represents Meta, TikTok and other technology companies, on the grounds that the Ohio law was overly broad and violates teens’ First Amendment rights.

The judge called the law a “breathtakingly blunt instrument for reducing social media’s harm to children” in just another chapter of the ongoing story about social media and the harms it causes to children.

Cincinnati Enquirer | Judge blocks Ohio law requiring parental permission for kids to use social media

AI Doing Some Good: Experiment Gives Clues to How Babies Learn Words

An innovative AI model has learned to associate words with images, much like a child, by analyzing 60 hours of video from a toddler’s perspective.

The approach offers fresh insights into human language acquisition and shows that AI can effectively learn context from real-world experiences, providing optimism for future educational applications.

Science News | How do babies learn words? An AI experiment may hold clues

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