WASHINGTON – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is seeking comment on best practices to protect minors’ mental health, safety and privacy online.
America’s young people are experiencing an unprecedented mental health crisis. There’s growing evidence social media and other online platforms are contributing to this crisis.
President Biden has made tackling this mental health crisis a top priority. As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Task Force on Kids Online Health & Safety, NTIA and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) are working to promote the health, safety and privacy of minors online by identifying and mitigating the potential adverse health effects of online platforms.
“America’s young people are living in an unprecedented era of digital access,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information, and NTIA Administrator. “The Internet offers enormous opportunities to learn and grow, but we cannot ignore the risks that children face online. Our inquiry will help develop best practices for industry and caregivers to ensure American’s youth can thrive in this digital age.”
“While there are benefits in using social media, it's important to consider the potential negative effects on the mental health of children and young people," said Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use and the leader of SAMHSA. “With this outreach, our aim is to identify existing and emerging risks to minors, suggest further research, and recommend best practices and standards to evaluate, prevent, and reduce potential online harm to young people. Our key goal is to identify ways to support and protect the mental health of current and future generations.”
NTIA’s Request for Comment seeks to learn more about social media and online platforms’ impacts on minors, current industry practices, and ways in which the private sector, caregivers and the U.S. government may counter negative effects. Specifically, NTIA seeks comment on:
- Identifying the health, safety and privacy risks and potential benefits of social media and online platforms on minors.
- The current practices and technologies employed by social media and online platforms that have a significant effect on minors’ health, safety and privacy.
- Guidance or best practices that might help caregivers and companies better protect the health, safety and privacy of minors online.
The responses will help inform the Task Force’s work in developing voluntary guidance, policy recommendations, and a toolkit on safety-, health- and privacy-by-design for industry to apply in developing digital products and services.
In addition to the Request for Comment, the Task Force will host several roundtable discussions in the coming months to consult with diverse experts and stakeholders. If you are interested in participating in the roundtables, please contact the Interagency Task Force on Kids Online Health and Safety at KOHS_TaskForce@samhsa.hhs.gov.
About the National Telecommunications and Information Administration
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policymaking focus largely on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, advancing public safety communications, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.