State Initiates Study on Youth Social Media Impact with New Legislation


In response to mounting concerns, New Jersey's Governor Phil Murphy signs into law a bill establishing a commission to probe the effects of social media usage on young people.

NEW JERSEY STATE - As the digital world continues to pervade our lives, Governor Phil Murphy has moved to explore its potential impact on the youngest residents of New Jersey. On July 24, 2023, Murphy signed a bill (S-715/A-1992) establishing the Commission on the Effects of Social Media Usage on Adolescents, a group charged with investigating the influence of social media both in and out of school settings.

Governor Murphy's decision underscores an increasingly prevalent concern over the effects of social media on young minds. 

"By establishing this commission, we will better understand how social media use – both in and out of school – is affecting the physical and mental health, safety, and academic performance of students to help mitigate any negative repercussions and protect the well-being of New Jersey’s youth," stated Governor Murphy.

The commission, consisting of 19 members, will probe various aspects of social media usage. These include gauging the extent of usage in public schools, understanding its effects on the emotional and physical health of students, and studying its impact on academic performance.

Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education, emphasized the importance of understanding the digital landscape and its effects on students. She pledged that the commission would work towards "empowering New Jersey students with the knowledge, resilience, and digital literacy needed to navigate the virtual world responsibly."

The commission's responsibilities include issuing a final report detailing its findings, proposing social media usage standards, and recommending strategies to alleviate the negative impact of social media on student health and academic performance.

Sponsors of the legislation, including Senator Richard Codey and Assemblyman Herb Conaway, stressed the need for such a commission in light of the burgeoning digital age and its impact on students. 

"In the last decade, teen suicide rates have doubled after a prior two decades of decline, and researchers correlate this to the widespread use of social media," revealed Assemblyman Herb Conaway

Conaway noted the commission's responsibility to establish evidence-based guidelines to best support the physical and emotional health of New Jersey students in a world where social media and smartphones are commonplace.

Education and child advocacy organizations across New Jersey applauded the formation of the commission, expressing their eagerness to contribute to the commission's work and commending the steps taken by Governor Murphy and the Legislature to address this critical issue.

In an age of increasing digital dominance, this commission represents New Jersey's proactive stance in ensuring that social media becomes a tool for growth and connection, rather than a catalyst for negativity and harm. The Garden State aims to guide its youth into a digital future with the necessary safeguards in place, fostering an environment that balances the benefits of connectivity with the protection of mental and physical health.

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