Press Release

CA Senate Approves Sen. Skinner’s Landmark Bill to Protect Youth from Social Media Addiction

In a bipartisan vote, the California state Senate has approved SB 976, landmark legislation by Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, that would protect children from the dangers associated with social media addiction. If enacted, SB 976, the Protecting Our Kids from Social Media Addiction Act, 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. Studies show that once a young person has a social media addiction, they experience higher rates of depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. But social media companies have been unwilling to voluntarily change their practices,” said Sen. Skinner. “With SB 976, the state Senate has sent a clear message: When social media companies won’t act, it’s our responsibility to protect our children.”

SB 976 won bipartisan approval from the Senate on Monday evening on a 35-2 vote. The legislation is sponsored by California Attorney General Rob Bonta, the Association of California School Administrators, and Public Health Advocates, and is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics and a large coalition of educators and advocates for families and children.

Over the years, social media companies have purposely designed their platforms to addict users to increase profits. Research 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. Under California’s Protecting Our Kids from Social Media Addiction Act, online platforms and apps would be barred from sending minors any addictive feeds without the consent of a parent or guardian. In addition, social media companies would be prohibited from sending notifications from midnight to 6 a.m., and on school days from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., without parental consent.

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

Recognizing that the internet and social media platforms can be a source of community for some young people, the bill also protects the ability of youth to seek out communities and build connections online in a structurally safe way.


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