Meta, the parent company of platforms like Instagram, is calling for new legislation aimed at standardizing age restrictions across app stores. This move comes amidst growing concerns about the online safety and privacy of teenagers and the complexities parents face in monitoring their children’s digital activities.
Recent Pew research indicates a strong public consensus for parental involvement in teens’ social media use, with 81% of US adults favoring mandatory parental consent for teen social media accounts. However, the rapidly evolving tech landscape makes it challenging for parents to keep up with the multitude of apps their teens use.
Meta suggests that while tech companies are developing age-appropriate experiences for teens, a consistent legislative approach is necessary to ensure uniform standards across all apps. Currently, varying state laws in the US are creating a fragmented legal environment, leading to inconsistencies in how teens are protected on different platforms.
Meta proposes a streamlined solution: federal legislation mandating app stores to require parental approval for app downloads by teens under 16. This approach would centralize parental oversight, allowing parents to manage their teens’ app usage more effectively while preserving privacy. By verifying a teen’s age at the app store level, individual apps would be relieved of the need to collect sensitive identification information, simplifying the process and enhancing privacy.
The company emphasizes that a unified, industry-wide solution would not only ease the burden on parents but also ensure that all apps adhere to the same safety and privacy standards. By working collaboratively with industry peers and lawmakers, Meta aims to foster a safer and more manageable online environment for teens and their parents.