Press Release

Sen. Skinner Introduces Landmark Bill to Protect Youth from Social Media Addiction

State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, today introduced SB 976, landmark legislation that would protect children from the dangers associated with social media addiction. If enacted, SB 976 would be the first such law in the nation.

Under SB 976, online platforms would be barred from sending an addictive social media feed to a minor without the consent of the youth’s parent or guardian. The groundbreaking bill would also prohibit a social media platform from sending notifications to minors during overnight hours and during the school day without the consent of a parent or guardian.

“Social media companies have designed their platforms to addict users, especially our kids. Countless studies show that once a young person has a social media addiction, they experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem,” said Sen. Skinner. “We’ve waited long enough for social media companies to act. SB 976 is needed now to establish sensible guardrails so parents can protect their kids from these preventable harms.”

The introduction of SB 976 comes two days before the U.S. Senate is scheduled to hold a bipartisan hearing with five Big Tech CEOs on “their failure to protect children online.” The legislation also follows a major lawsuit filed in Oakland by California and dozens other states against Meta over deceptive features in Facebook and Instagram that hook teens and harm their mental health.

SB 976, “Protecting Our Kids from Social Media Addiction,” is sponsored by California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA). It’s also co-authored by a bipartisan group of state senators: Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica; Angelique Ashby, D-Sacramento; María Elena Durazo, D-Los Angeles; Susan Rubio, D-Baldwin Park; and Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita.

“SB 976 is landmark legislation that I am proudly sponsoring to better protect our children online,” said Attorney General Bonta. “Social media companies are employing harmful platform features while misleading young users, their families, and the public about the addictive quality of those features. Enough is enough. It is everyone’s responsibility to protect our children. I am grateful to collaborate with Senator Skinner in introducing this urgently needed legislation and protecting the health of the almost 9 million children who call California home.”

“ACSA supports healthy learning environments for California’s children who, more than ever, need positive affirming influences that support their social/emotional and academic well-being,” said ACSA Executive Director Edgar Zazueta. “Given all of the challenges facing today’s students both on and off school campuses, we believe tools to help enhance focus and discourage disruption are in the best interest of young learners and educators alike.”

“Increasingly it is becoming clear that social media addiction is taking a serious toll on the mental health of our young people during their most critical stages of development,” said Sen. Allen. “We must empower families with tools to set healthy boundaries and find the right balance for their children’s well-being.”

“In today’s society, children are exposed to addictive content on social media,” said Sen. Ashby. “Many children develop addictions to this content, which bleeds into their everyday lives impacting their mental health, physical health, and well-being. Taking steps to reduce the exposure will help keep our young people healthy.”

“As co-author of Senator Skinner’s SB 976, I support legislation that aims to prevent social media platforms from targeting minors through content that intentionally encourages addictive behavior,” said Sen. Durazo. “Our children should be reading, socializing and interacting with kids instead of directing all of their attention span to their tablets. Research shows that habitual use of social media can lead to mental health issues like depression, social anxiety and may affect school performance. Our future leaders and teachers should be well equipped with social and cognitive skills to lead our next generation.”

“As a classroom teacher for almost 20 years, I saw firsthand the growing negative impact that cellphones and social media applications caused on students. Their addictive effects were not only disruptive to learning, the unfettered and often unmonitored access to the internet and social media platforms endangered them in ways they were too young to understand,” said Sen. Rubio. “I am proud to join Sen. Skinner in providing these needed protections for our children. The well-being of our children is exponentially more important than any financial incentive driving social media platforms to lure our kids to stay constantly connected.”

“This bill puts parents back in the driver’s seat. It’s time to get out of the wild, wild west and put guardrails in place to prevent social media companies from bombarding our kids with highly addictive and dangerous content,” said Sen. Wilk.

Over the years, social media companies have purposely designed their platforms to addict users to increase profits. Research also shows that youth are particularly susceptible to psychologically manipulative algorithms that induce young users to compulsively spend time on platforms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that children in the U.S. spend between 6 to 14 hours per day in front of a screen, with much of that time viewing social media content.

Social media companies keep youth addicted with features such as notifications to their phones, tablets or laptops that lure kids back to the platform or app at all hours of the day. And research has linked social media addiction among youth with higher rates of depression, anxiety, lack of sleep, and low self-esteem.

To date, New York is the only other state to introduce legislation similar to SB 976. With “Protecting Our Kids from Social Media Addiction,” online platforms and apps would be barred from sending any addictive social media feed to youth without the consent of a parent or guardian. In addition, social media companies would be prohibited from sending notifications to youth from midnight to 6 a.m., and on school days from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., without parental consent.

This bill would also mandate that social media platforms set a default time limit of one hour daily that can be adjusted by parents; ensure that the default setting for a minor’s accounts is “private;” and give the California AG the authority to set regulations to ensure compliance with all aspects of the bill.


Sen. Nancy Skinner represents the 9th Senate District and is chair of the Senate Budget Committee and the California Legislative Women’s Caucus.