Emma Lemke, a college student and founder of the Log Off Movement, has urged the US Congress to better protect children online, highlighting social media’s impact on youth mental health. She is part of a growing number of young activists calling for stricter regulation of social media. Speaking to Dr Sanjay Gupta, she claims that social media is designed to be manipulative, drawing users in and keeping them hooked before causing harm to their mental health. In response, Emma created The Log Off Movement to build awareness of social media’s impact on mental health and advocate for stricter regulations for younger users.
Many young people have expressed concern over the impact that social media and technology could have on their well-being, but they also acknowledge that regulating social media is essential. Stricter regulations should not be the responsibility of individuals or parents, but rather, the responsibility of the social media platforms themselves. The current design of social media is manipulative by design, and Emma believes that it is time for a redesign to make it safer for young people.
Social media companies face a difficult challenge when it comes to protecting young users. The surge in misinformation campaigns and hate speech led to scrutiny over what is shared, leading to calls for more stringent moderation or regulation. However, the lack of youth representation and voices in discussions remains problematic, and policymakers need to engage with young users to better understand their perspectives.
Finally, a range of factors has made social media one of the most important issues of our time. Social media companies have come under fire in the past few months, and Emma’s testimony to Congress has helped represent the already hushed voices of other young people. Regulating online behavior is not just about children’s safety; it’s about ensuring that adults also feel safe online. Therefore, the redesign of social media, including more robust regulation policies, could help address the growing mental health crisis among the youth today.