THE KIDS (KIDS INTERNET DESIGN & SAFETY ACT)
The other day I was searching "O" for Octonauts on Netflix and had to shield my son's eyes from a dizzying array of images and promos for shows his barely-four-year-old self can neither process nor understand.
I can barely process the odd visual matrix that has become the reality of TV today and am horrified at what The Algorithm suggests I might like, not to mention what might randomly autoplay next. Even searching an age-appropriate show on a filtered Netflix channel can lead to being bombarded with inappropriate images of cartoons-slash-ads masquerading as “content” my son is not ready to see.
Thankfully, Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass) is spearheading the KIDS Act (Kids Internet Design and Safety Act) which proposes new regulation for streaming platforms such as Netflix and You Tube so our kids don’t accidentally, or intentionally, view content laden with all the terrifying things you can possibly think of. The bill would ban autoplaying to help combat binge-watching and online addiction (something I’m slightly guilty of but certainly don’t want to model and promote!)
It also proposes mandating more commercial-free content and would require platforms to rate the “age appropriateness” of their content similar to how traditional networks are required to do. The last children’s media update was in 1990 which was well before people even used email! A sensible regulatory refresh is long overdue in order for families and their children to successfully and safely navigate the ultimate Superdrug — The Internet.