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tv   House Hearing on Child Internet Safety During COVID-19 Pandemic  CSPAN  April 9, 2021 1:59am-4:52am EDT

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contact information for every member of congress including bios and committee assignments. order your copy at c-span shop.org. every purchase helps support c-span's nonprofit operation. >> next, a house hearing on children's internet safety. during the coronavirus pandemic, including questions on targeting , advertising to kids, and attending school online, held by the energy and commerce subcommittee, this is two hours 50 minutes. again, good morning and welcome to our hearing. children are spending twice as much time online as compared to before the pandemic. this time is increasingly spent on digital platforms not designed with children in mind. we all hope and in some cases it
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is already happening that kids will be able to safely return to schools. we should not be naive and believe in a person's schooling -- that a person's schooling will mean company stopped targeting our children online. techniques honed by companies during the pandemic and online habits developed by our kids will continue long after they are back in school. many online platforms are addictive. by design. grabbing attention and maximizing profits. children are especially vulnerable to addictive or manipulative techniques, technologies. they are more susceptible to coercive advertising and have trouble resisting attention
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grabbing features. the more time children spend online, the more unlikely they are to be subject to age and appropriate content. there are few effective barriers to protect our children. and teens, as well. for marble content and hate speech -- from harmful content and hate speech that plagues our discourse. nor are they shielded from privacy which has become a feature of platforms. platforms are intended for generally is are not required to protect the privacy of children. many of the most popular platform say they do not allow
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children under the age of 13 but do nothing to enforce that requirement. the harms children and teens are experiencing online have very real and lasting side effects off-line. more screen time has been associated with higher levels of anxiety, depression, sleep deprivation, obesity, and even suicide. children need tailored protections. privacy, infringement, and manipulative marketing practices. children's privacy must be protected by upgrading tort law for our increasingly complex and connected digital world. i want to thank you and yield to the author of this bill we will
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discuss today, congressman caffe castro -- kathy castor. >> when congress wrote capa back in 1998, the internet was in its infancy. the majority of households did not have a computer -- a confused or. there were no internet connected devices. they have to go to the desktop and wait for dial up internet. despite how antiquated this may seem to us in 22 new one, it was revolutionary in 1998. at that time, congress acted to meet the moment. they put in place safeguards to protect our children in the new online environment. boy have things changed since then. we read another critical moment
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-- we are at another critical moment where technological innovation and our children are the forefront. their every move is being tracked by their phones, apps, tablets, and more. platforms are manipulated children to stay online longer and pushing them towards extreme content. big businesses is profiting and our children are paying the price. as our witnesses point out, that prices a real world, a harmful impact on our kids safety, their development, and their mental health. it has gotten worse during the pandemic. screen time is gone up while the ability of parents to monitor the screen time is gone down. turns are looking to congress to make sure their kids are safe. that is occasionally strains. we need to meet this moment.
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i intend to reintroduce my kids privacy act, the kids act, to safeguard our kids. i would like to invite members from both sides of the aisle to work with me to update capa. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the ranking member of the subcommittee for his five minutes. you are recognized. >> thank you, madam chair. i wanted to thank you for holding this very important hearing. i know we share a similar view that while technology can be amazing and keeping us all connected, when it comes to substitutions for interpersonal communications, we are all at a loss. my father served on this committee and back when he did serve, we could talk amongst the
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dais, write each other notes, communicate directly on what was happening in our lives, both personally and professionally. unfortunately, here we are in a virtual hearing. while we have gotten a bit better from the early days of virtual hearings, we are all human. i expect there will still be miscues today like when someone is ready to talk or providing the kind of attention our witnesses deserve for their statements. i appreciate them being here. think about what it is being like for our kids. this is their new reality and it is a sad one, in my opinion. the pandemic has caused so many americans to become isolated, especially our kids. without opportunities for children to interact in person with their friends directly, many turn to social media to fill the void. sadly, this had led to a -- has led to a cascade of negative
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effects. i believe this hearing could serve as a -- an important alarm bell about the safety of getting students back into school to reverse this trend. at the beginning of the pandemic, which was unknown about the virus. virtual school was a seemingly viable bridge to acted -- to educating students. distance learning can certainly be a positive tool for some students. but the fact now is clear that as a primary means of instruction, it does not work for advancing our kids education, especially children with disabilities. there is good news, however. a number of schools have shown they can safely open including in my great state of florida. i hope we can find avenues for all students to have the same accessibility to education
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opportunities. the alternative is -- this was on full display in nevada last year. more than 3000 alerts about students with suicidal thoughts flooded the inbox of district officials. the school district reopened for in person schooling but tragically too late. by december of last year, 18 students took their own lives. 18 families lost their children. we all have -- we do not want a clark county where history can repeat itself. i was pleased that president biden pledge to reopen schools by his 100th day in office. cdc director wilensky relayed that data indicated schools can begin to safely reopen. and for more than one day a week.
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still, we are all armed to recent cognitive statements, so it will be interesting to find out what is change. hopefully we'll have insight here. i want to know, as privacy protections are on the agenda today, that they should be part of the real solution. many republicans have been and remain committed to this. to speak more on this topic, i would like to yield to my good friend congressman tim walberg for his efforts to reach a bipartisan deal. ideal my rest -- i yield the best of -- the rest of my time to them. >> when i first introduced to protect kids act, there was a pressing need to modernize the law. in the midst of this global pandemic, with children and
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parents challenge, there is a more pressing need. while the ftc made improvements to capa, they did not go far enough. the internet has drastically changed his 2013. -- changed since 2013. the law is outdated. it needs to be updated to ensure children are protected. from troubling conduct of big tech. the products kids act represent a common sense, bipartisan solution. i appreciate my friend congressman rushed to put children's well-being at the top of congresses priority list. we continue to work with stakeholders to strengthen the bill. we welcome input from members of the subcommittee and look forward to working together to pass these reforms. i think you and yield back.
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>> the gentleman yields back and the chair now recognizes the chair of the soul committee for his opening statements. >> the covid-19 pandemic is unprecedented. it has disrupted our lives. children in particular have had their world turned upside down. visits with friends have been replaced by videoconferencing it in person activities replaced by video games. kids screen time has doubled during this pandemic. you just told me that on the elevator, madam chair. i did not realize it was that much. as we have heard time and again, consumers online face manipulative advertising, disinformation, harassment, dark pattern manipulation, and intrusion.
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for children, such practices are downright predatory. children do not possess the same level of cognitive development to defend themselves and are uniquely vulnerable to these effects. a growing body of research confirms the link between increased digital media use and depression and higher instances of addiction, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and obesity. we've also seen harmful baby ever -- behavior like cyber bullying increase. scammers are taking advantage of people spend more time online. some app developers propagate addiction by design through sophisticated, thoroughly tested means to keep kids on their site and extract money. common elements include pressuring inept purchases. so-called premium act -- apps that tease paid versions and
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game of occasion marketing --gameification marketing. and there's influential -- influencer marketing. sometimes adults don't even understand those people are paid for those posts. young children have no idea the videos they are watching a someone opening a new toy is meant to sell the toy. online advertiser spending is now the largest of any medium. spending on digital ads specifically targeting children is expected to reach $1.7 billion this year. most paps -- most apps -- including 95% of the apps used by children under five, far too often kids are exposed to alcohol, tobacco products, violent video games, and other content. this is to maximize engagement
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and increase revenue at the expense of children. many try to pot lit -- many try to limit the possible negative effects. but people are overwhelmed. the pandemic has made it clear this problem will not fix itself. nor will the harmful activities, despite laws to protect children's privacy, data collection and tracking of children is prevalent. many apps on mobile devices are stories for collecting personal information. it is bought and sold, resulting in manipulation for children. congress granted the ftc rulemaking authority under the children's online privacy protection act, or copa, so i can update the safeguards. the internet has expressed a
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seachange since the last update to the rules. miss castor mentioned this. those rules are out of date. the ftc started the process of updating the rules, but we also should examine whether practices targeting children should be regulated. we cannot leave it all to parents. the challenges children faced online existed before the pandemic, but they only have gotten worse. i wanted to thank you, madam chair, and also kathy castor because of the fact that you're having this hearing and drawing attention to the legislation. i look forward to this panel on what is a very important topic. thank you. >> the gentleman yields back. the chair recognizes ms. rogers, raking member of the full committee for five minutes for her opening statement.
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>> good morning, madam chair and everyone. welcome. our discussion today is especially important to me. not just as a member of congress but as a mom. we absolutely need to have a serious discussion about what is happening to our kids online. the mental health and safety. what needs to happen to reopen schools immediately. yesterday we heard from for doctors who wrote in usa today, quote, keeping schools close, even partially close, based on what we know now, is harming our children. they said the biden administration misinterpreted their research in science. the science is clear. viral transmission is minimal. children are not a significant risk. it is time to reopen immediately
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and listen to the experts who are saying loud and clear, follow the signs. school closures are harming children. it is more than just a homework gap. there are serious help -- health and mental health risks associated with children spending more time online. as we heard today, it is doubled. these are stories. i'm hearing them from parents who want schools to reopen. i hear it every day. our kids are not active. they are not engaged. they are falling asleep during remote school. they are isolated. suicide and overdose risk goes up. as our children spend more time online, there are more at risk to predators. this is all happening in my community. i know we are not alone. the science tells it all. the risk of despair far outweighs the risk of covid-19 in schools. in addition to the usa today, i
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encourage everyone to read a piece from the new york times. it documents scientific insight from health officials. here is what one peter trish and from san francisco said. quote, we are witnessing a significant public health crisis in our children who are experiencing unprecedented mental illness and physical ailments during this time. this would be mitigated if not completely alleviated by in person schooling,". i understand our focus today is on child safety in an increasingly digital age. surely we can agree science, not fear, should dictate how we perfect them -- protect them and build a new future. we can mitigate a lot of the harm we are talking about today by not letting another day go bio school closures. that is what will give our children the best chance to succeed and thrive in life.
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specifically regarding protection online, i am committed and convicted to the importance of updating and modernizing our laws. i look forward to joining bipartisan work for data and privacy protection, especially children's privacy. i sincerely hope these efforts resume soon and that this committee legislates in a bipartisan way again. if we look to the future of building a better world for the next generation, i want to be clear. america can lead a new era of technological innovation. we must lead with our values for freedom, human rights, and human dignity. but we are failing with close schools. this year-long experiment is failing our kids. our kids are in crisis. technology should add to education. it is not a substitute.
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reopening for in person learning does not mean two days a week. it means five days. for the teacher and the children in the classroom, together. before the president's address tonight, we should all be asking why more is not being done to reopen, just as the doctors wrote in usa today. this is a human rights issue. let's open the doors of our schools and let our kids learn and thrive again. thank you. mr. chairman, i ask unanimous consent to include both articles i mentioned in the record. >> all of those will be added at the end of the hearing. >> i yelled back, sorry, madam chair. i yield. >> thank you. the chair would like to remind members pursuant to committee rules, all members'opening
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statements will be made part of the record. now i will introduce the witnesses. we have to thank them so much for their participation today. did i get that? the chair of the council of committed occasions -- communications and media at the american academy of pediatrics. we have cory, -- cory deangelis, phd, director of the school of choice at the reason foundation.
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adjunct scholar at the cato institute. executive director of the educational foundation institute. and ariel fox johnson, the senior council of global policy. we want to thank all of you for joining us for this very important hearing today which i'm getting the feeling has a good deal of bipartisan support. we look forward to your testimony. dr., you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. good morning. thank you so much for inviting me to discuss young people's digital media use during the pandemic.
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i am a pediatrician at the mayo clinic in rochester minnesota. i am here representing the american academy of pediatrics, a nonprofit professional medical organization of more than 67,000 pediatricians why serve as the chair of the caps on commute occasions and media. today's youth grow up immersed in digital media. in 1970 children began to watch tv around four years away -- of age. today, babies interact with digital media within the first months of their lives. this has been an issue for years, well before the pandemic. the pandemic laid bare this long-standing issue, creating an opportunity to address structural issues within the digital eds -- ecosystem. i have to acknowledge the unprecedented challenges families are up against. it is no surprise screen time has increased significantly. as pediatricians we have to acknowledge the reality of the ubiquity of digital devices. we are not preach device
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abstinence. we approach moderate, balanced, prosocial use as part of a balanced media diet. technology can have important benefits, like broadening horizons and as a learning tool. it provides space for community building among the marginalized. children of color who face racism can build resilience by finding support online. with these benefits in mind, we need to focus on the real threats focused -- posed by technology. parents need help. tech companies must be held accountable for the products they create. data collection is among the most pervasive threats facing young people. companies can contract, track, and influence users. users can unknowingly disclose location, likes and dislikes, along with inapt behavior. this intentionally opaque
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process is then used to make ads more effective and platforms more profitable. children using these products do not understand the ramifications of the data collection, which can influence the information that reaches them. content is tailored to their interests and can create false norms. algorithms can accurately put a 20 child will want to watch next. these elements make it hard for young brains to resist. many products feature manipulative design that nudges users into specific behaviors. an example or -- is the autoplay feature on flat firms like netflix or youtube which places the onus on young people to opt out of watching the next video, making increased screen time an almost foregone conclusion. game a fight ads --gameified ads are very appealing to children.
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users of a supposedly free math game were shown 16 different ads and only for math problems over 19 minutes of gameplay. social media allows companies to reach people through paid influencer marketing. lung -- young people are led to believe that posts reflect the genuine preferences of a poster when they are in fact being targeted by marketing campaigns. people are exposed to inaccurate and harmful content including information about covid-19 and vaccines. use of color -- disproportionate charting for unhealthy ads on health disparities and increased screen time stemming from structural issues. to make real progress, we must use the positive aspects of technology while removing the
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threats. the aap recommends an enhanced scopa that protects all children under the age of 18. if data collection is even allowed for young people, it should be an opt in. congress must ban targeted advertising to those under age 18. congress should fund efforts to improve digital liver -- literacy, and expand research on how digital media impacts children. the issues young people face in the digital world are not insurmountable. through effective policy, it is possible to build a better world for our children during and after this pandemic. thank you. >> thank you. now i will recognize dr. deangelis. you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. chair zukowski, distinguished numbers of congress.
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there have been substantial costs associated with keeping schools closed in terms of students losing ground academically, mentally, and physically. these impact lesson 4 -- less privileged groups. schools can open safely and school openings are not associated with major increases in covid-19 transmission or hospitalization. suggestions that reopening decisions have to do with power dynamics and political partnership. schools have been fighting to reopen. private schools in kentucky took the fight to supreme court in an attempt to provide in person services. private schools in ohio to get around the arbitrary
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school closure. many unions have been changing the goalpost. not because of intentions or benevolence between the two sectors, but one of incentives. one kids dollars whether they open the doors for business. several actions by unions raised eyebrows. union groups in oregon, pennsylvania lobbied the government to make it illegal to switch to virtual charter schools that have been providing students with remote instruction. these actions protect a system at the expense of families. then came the political demands and report on safely, openings goals, calling for things unrelated, defunding the police, medicare fall, and the ban on charter schools. they joined together to hold the
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national date of resistance to demand safe schools, including political demands. why was it safe for public school buildings to reopen, but not for in person learning? why was it safe for officials to vacation in puerto rico, and send their own children to private schools, but not safe enough to return to work? why have four studies found openings are related to political partisanship than covid risk? why does the congressional budget office estimate 5% of relief funding would be spent this year, while 95% of funding would be paid out after the pandemic, if the goal is to reopen schools now? why did descendant block an amendment that would have made funding conditional upon reopening schools in person if all teachers were vaccinated?
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why has florida been able to fully reopen in schools, while california has kept its door shut? it might be because the school reopening debate has been more about politics and the power than safety and families. the past year has put a spotlight on the main problem with k-12 education in the u.s. the only way we will fix that is to empower families by funding students directly. if a grocery store does not reopen, families can take their money elsewhere. if a school does not reopen, families should be able to take education dollars elsewhere. it is meant for educating children, not protecting institutions. families have been getting a bad
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deal, and they realize there is no reason when we can fund students themselves. a survey found that support for funding students directly increase by 10% between april and august 2020. we already fund students in higher education, and in pre-k with headstart. the funding goes to individual students and families, as opposed to buildings. with these programs, food stamps, housing vouchers, medicaid, we find individuals, instead of schools. thank you. >> you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. good morning. thank you for the invitation to appear before you in recognizing
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the digital world poses unique risks and harms to children and teenagers. the pandemic has exacerbated these risks and harms, but they existed before. unless congress acts, they will persist. senior counsel for global policy a common sense media, common sense is the leading organization helping kids and families thrive in a changing digital world. my testimony emphasizes three points. first, children and teenagers are on the frontlines of the online world, and uniquely vulnerable to digital harms. second, the status quote is failing young people. third, solutions to the challenges are the responsibility of congress and technology leaders. we need a healthy internet. in my house with limited to no childcare, our screen time rules
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have gone out the window. this weekend, i told my children to watch a movie or play on their tablet so i could prepare this testimony. whether it was once debatable, it is clear there is no choice. it is necessary to connect with families, learn, and play. our research shows it was already the norm for young children, and screen time had multiplied. with children in lower income houses spinning two hours more a day with screens. the pandemic has turbocharge this. distance learning is a big driver for older kids, but screen time is up for all kids. children two years old to 15 years old watch television and streaming a full day each week. youtube and gaming consuls have increased in usage. 82% more daily users. social media and mobile use this up. one study found kids were
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sending and receiving three times more messages than the year before. parents are worried. parents concerns were over use of social media, cyber bullying, and internet safety. young people are impulsive and prone to over share. they don't understand data does not remain on the device, let alone complex online data and advertising ecosystems. they are more susceptible to advertising and online persuasion. kids are no match for tech companies, who have grown unchecked and remain unaccountable. too many are manipulating children, misusing their information, and exposing kids to harm. this is not something that will magically stop in the pandemic ends. kids are surveilled everywhere.
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manipulative design pressures teenagers to scroll constantly, and attach their self worth to members. others can drain credit cards with purchases and get shamed by those who spend more money. more than nine in 10 teenagers reported violent content online. our own research details how the number of teenagers who have seen such content online has doubled in the past two years. meanwhile, mental health is taking a hit. what should congress do? you and others on this committee have been leaders. as we have seen from the statements of the committee and witnesses today, there is clear agreement there is a problem. the challenges ensuring that when commerce acts, it makes a difference, but there is risk it may not do enough. we believe that it is outdated. it must be updated.
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congress should pass a strong privacy law with special protections for vulnerable children and teenagers. the privacy act introduced by members would address many shortcomings. it protects them and prohibits behavioral marketing. congress also passed the kids back, which creates rules around online marketing to kids, and encourage healthy content and design. we support other steps to hold technology accountable, but we believe there is much industry can do now. they don't need to wait congress to minimize it and create healthy products. technology and media offer in on in norma's benefits. thank you. i look forward to questions. -- enormous benefits.
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thank you. i look forward to questions. >> we have concluded witness statements at this time. we will move to member questions. each member will have five minutes to ask questions of our witnesses, and i will start by recognizing myself for five minutes. the line between people online and off-line is rapidly disappearing. this is particularly true for kids. as one witness said, even infants, i have seen babies holding devices in the airport and other places. the ability to track children for behavioral ads, behavioral
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advertising, coupled with persuasion devices designed tactics has been a real problem and a threat to our kids. i want to ask, can you speak to how children and even teenagers struggle to identify and resist these manipulative techniques in today's complex online ecosystem? >> certainly. thank you. your question gets to the heart of the problem. children at different developmental pages have different levels of ability to understand and resist persuasive programming. for young children, i don't think that exists. they don't have the
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sophistication and are uniquely vulnerable to persuasive design. even teenagers who may have some training in digital literacy, media literacy have difficulty resisting these persuasive, well-targeted ads. frankly it is hard for adults to resist, too, so that is why the american academy of pediatrics feels that it is important to create structural lairs that holds technology responsible, and this is an opportunity for congress to pass laws that protect children from predatory targeting and data collection. >> thank you so much. let me ask, given that these marketing and design techniques are so sophisticated do you
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believe the federal trade commission, ftc, should regulate such predatory behavior under the unfair and deceptive practices authority? >> i certainly believe that the ftc could regulate these things, particularly children under 13 who may not know they are interacting with an advertisement. i think that a less the to just path forward would be congress -- less litigious path forward would be congress making sure this is not allowed. >> let me ask about the platform accountability. do you think that we need to have platform accountability, or
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exposing children to harmful and inappropriate content? >> i always think accountability is important, especially creating products that are not necessarily developmentally appropriate, but still exposing children to highly inappropriate content. we believe that technology companies need to take responsibility for that, because we believe we have the same general goal of wanting to protect children. >> thank you. i wonder if you wanted to comment on that, the accountability of the platforms? >> yes, these platforms are powerful and have resources at their disposal, unlike many parents. they are not just making content available that is inappropriate, but actively pushing it on them
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and taking it into more outrageous or concerning scenarios. they can do a better job of what they push and identifying healthy, positive educational content. >> thank you. i did it again. i want to ask you, how might this repeated, regular exposure to inappropriate content, often viewed together with appropriate content, harm or affect our children? if you could tell us long term as well how that will affect our children? >> that is an important question. thank you for addressing that. repeated exposure to violent content or frankly, racist content that kids are encountering online really can
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be harmful. we know from past research that harassment and being exposed to these negative images can undermine a child's self-esteem. it can cause significant mental distress for him. being exposed to that repeatedly unfortunately only multiplies that effect, which is all the more reason to be careful and hold tech companies accountable for what they are putting out there. >> thank you. i have gone over my time. i yield back. and now i would welcome the congressman to ask his question for five minutes. >> thank you. i appreciate it. thank you, not just for your testimony, but your important work on mental health for children. it is so very important. they are our future. i believe your contributions today really serves multiple
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areas we are working on, so again, i appreciate all the witnesses. i am concerned about children being depressed, anxious, and even suicidal. this generation has become like that. you see it on a regular basis in our district. can you speak to the isolation that kids have felt since the pandemic began, and can you provide perspective on what are the most common issues you are seeing that might be driving the sadness of these kids? as a follow-up, would you agree that one of the best ways we deal with these issues is to curb access to these negative impacts? >> thank you. such a critical question. there is no doubt that pediatricians have anecdotally been reporting increased visits for depression and anxiety. i find those are two of the most
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common mental health issues that i have been seen during the pandemic. i do want to make it clear we have been seeing increasing levels, even before the pandemic, but certainly exacerbated by a combination of factors. the pandemic has been very stressful for everyone. i have children whose parents have lost jobs, patients who have lost family members to covid-19, so it is multi-factorial. isolation plays into it. that is why we have to look at the positive benefits of technology, where that has allowed them to stay connected to grandparents, elderly neighbors, friends, but obviously, we want to maximize the positive benefits without leaving them vulnerable to the negative benefits, and i apologize, you had a follow-up question? >> yes, let me address it. would you agree that one of the
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best ways we deal with these issues is to curb access to these negative impacts? >> i agree that the best way to curb negative impacts is to look at the structural system and to minimize those harms through accountability, platforms, and legislation to help regulate what children are able to access and what data is collected on them. thank you. >> thank you. again, for you again, there has been data and scientifically-backed pediatricians, including those at the american academy of pediatricians, who argue schools are safe enough to open. do you agree with your colleagues that we need to get schools back up for students and teachers? >> hi appreciate that question. i know that is a related issue, even if it is not the specific issue at this hearing. i think the american academy of
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pediatrics has put together a thoughtful and evidence-based recommendation school reopening. we know that all schools are not equally resourced. in order to make sure schools are safe to return, we need to ensure universal masking, handwashing, social distancing, having teachers vaccinated as an additional layer of protection. it is never one thing when we talk about public health or health benefits, but we can all agree we want to move towards the goal of making it safe for all kids to return to school and to make sure schools are appropriately funded so they can ensure the safety measures for everybody. >> thank you. which you like to comment on any of this supporting the reopening of schools? >> yes, there was a systematic review of the evidence published today.
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a reporter linda jacobson summarize the study and said " mounting evidence shows it is safe for reopening schools, and the risk of in-person learning contribute to the spread of covid-19 is low, according to a new review released thursday and 130 different studies, only huge amount of evidence, and also research at the cdc published in a journal saying "the evidence from the semester has been reassuring as far as the rapid spread that was observed in living facilities and high-density worksites has not been reported in schools and there has been little evidence schools have contributing meaningfully to community transmission. new york city, where the school positivity rate is less than a 10th of the positivity rate in the community, you can look at quotes from anthony fauci saying close the bars and open the schools, and schools are not major contributing to community transmission.
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there is tons of evidence suggesting schools can reopen safely, particularly if you have the procedures in place. the latest study suggested that relationship between funding and schools for reopening. >> we will have to call in the next speaker. i am looking for him, the chair of the school committee, recognize for questions for five minutes. >> thank you, madam chair. i want to start out with one witness. my concern is you have many constituents who work twoob jobs and have to take care of their family and just putting food on the table is a challenge, and there was her recent common sense media survey that shows children from lower income households spend two additional hours than those from higher income households. so while parents can supervise,
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or at least that is the goal, it is impractical and not possible when working two jobs. so, dr., our children able to self monitor the digital consumption and do they know when to disconnect? i know parental controls are viewed as an alternative when direct supervision is not possible, but 70 ones percent -- 71% of parents they are not satisfied with the tools to keep kids safe. the kids can self monitor. can they know it to, if you would? >> thank you, chair. that is a critical question whether children can self monitor. when we look at the circumstances that this pandemic has brought to the forefront, these are not new. for decades, the academy has recognize the unique vulnerability of young children, even teenagers to self monitor
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and resist manipulative designs. 20 to 30 years ago, as one of your members mentioned, it was easy to turn off the tv and for parents to monitor, but with ubiquity of these devices, it really makes it harder for kids to self regulate and self monitor. children are not capable. i want to make that clear. it will not happen without structural support and parental supervision, which has become even more difficult when you have a parent in one room working one job, parent in another room working one job, so again, we have to look at this as a structural issue, which we have done for years to mature recognize we need more protections for our kids, even media-savvy teenagers have difficulty self-regulating, even though it is ok to give them a little bit of flexibility to do that. >> thank you.
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let me ask, can you discuss the different parental control options available, including how easy they are to use, what that means for low income families, and any privacy concerns? given the limitations that you will probably say about these devices, how do you explain why baseline default protections for children are important, if you could? >> sure. thank you. so, there are a variety of printer controls, and researching all of them -- parental controls, and researching all of them takes time. you can have controls at the device level, gaming systems offer controls within them. like i said, it takes time to research these, and additional time and effort to implement them in effective ways. the better ones do more than just allow you to block sites, but filter content, see what
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your kids are doing costs money come at $10 a month. $100 a year. more money if you have more kids. the time involved makes it difficult for lower income families, and in particular, families with less digital literacy to use these tools effectively. as you mentioned, concerns about kids growing up with surveillance and feeling normalized that someone can constantly follow him. traditionally, kids could go into room, shut the door, and have privacy. that might not be possible if someone is constantly monitoring them. u.k. has provided parental controls and company should make that clear ticket so they know what is going on and it is not secret surveillance. >> baseline default protections, is that important? >> yes. baseline protections are super important. defaults are super important. lots of people don't change
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defaults, and copies make it difficult to change defaults. if companies had to put kids at the front in designing the products, it would be less difficult to go to the time, trouble, and money putting in extra parental controls. >> thank you so much. thank you, madam chair. i yield back. >> thank you. i recognize this rogers, the ranking member on the committee for her five -- miss rogers, the ranking member on the committee for her five minutes. >> thank you for this hearing today. it is important. i appreciate the witnesses here sharing your insights with us. during my opening statement, i emphasize the importance of schools to reopen fully, five days a week, for students and
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teachers to return to the classroom. you have some startling statistics in your testimony, especially the disproportionate impact on less advantaged children in our country. your testimony states that in 2020 there was an increase of 91% since the previous year for the students with disabilities, and 81% for high school students with disabilities. can you explain what this means for these families and the students, and what it would mean to have school in-person again? >> thank you for the question. it can lead to long term negative impacts, in addition to student achievement negative impacts. there is a nationwide analysis on two different occasions finding students have lost months of learning, and an economist with stanford university did a report published by the oecd estimating this could have a net present
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value of a negative impact of $17 trillion in the u.s., associated with lifetime earnings another negative impacts to gdp. there are other problems not associated with learning losses, like mental health problems increasing. the ranking member pointed out suicides had doubled for students in clark county public schools in nevada since the same time last year, so there are a ton of cost. one more district in my area, their failure rate increase by 82% relative to last year for students failing two or more classes, and 111% over doubling and failure of two or more classes, so obviously, reopening the schools could lead to more options for individual families to make that choice of whether they want to do in-person or remote learning going forward, and to be able to take the best learning of varmint for their
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children and that would lead to better incomes later in life and lower likelihood to criminal activity and a better lifetime earnings in the long run was that these are important things that we need to consider. there are a lot of costs to keeping schools close. at first, people were only looking at the cost associated with reopening schools. we have to look at both sides of the equation. >> thank you. as a follow-up, the republican leader on the subcommittee mentioned some schools are beginning to open. washington state is still largely locked down. a small percentage of schools have open, but i wanted to ask you about the private and parochial schools. some of them have open. more of them have open. i wanted to ask if you have any data on the trends of transmission rates in private and parochial schools? >> it is common knowledge that private schools have been more
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likely to reopen than public schools in the u.s. nationwide, in particular counties across the country as well. there are data on covert case rates in private schools collected by brown university. an economist at brown university has been compiling this, finding the case rates in the schools are substantially lower than the case rates in the community over time, but also, you can break it down as public versus private schools, so even with the majority of children returning to in-person learning, the covid case positivity rates in the schools have been substantially lower than the overall community, sometimes as much as a 20th below the overall community positivity rate, hovering around .5% or less consistently over time, so private schools have been able to do it. some public schools have done a good job at being able to reopen in person's wealth, so it can be
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done -- person as well, so it can be done. he saw the difference between california and florida. florida spends less, but more likely to be open then california, and florida tends to have less powerful teachers unions as well. >> you mentioned in your testimony that after private and parochial schools open, public schools often followed suit. it seems these schools were safe enough to reopen from the beginning. the director of the cdc please schools could reopen, and why is this happening? >> that could be why florida is likely to reopen, because they have more choices with the programs. they are leading the way on those fronts, which can lead to more competition, as the brown university found. i think this has a lot to do with incentives. >> ok. madam chair, i yield back. >> thank you.
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i am going to go vote. before i do that, i want to yield for five minutes to bobby rush, my colleague from illinois for five minutes of questioning. the vice chair of the committee for taking over, thank you. you are recognized, bobby. >> thank you, madam chair. i want to thank all of the witnesses for this hearing. in your testimony, you discuss how lower income households and those from racial and ethnic minority groups are spending more time in front of the screen . my question to you is, given the
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very positive and inspirational influence from the joe biden administration and [indiscernible] by the end of may, and making sense more and moves to reopen no later than the fall. in the interim, how do we use online opportunities to help address this condition?
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students are fallen behind. is there any way we can pick it the current situation to what a situation could possibly mean and opening soon? >> sure. thank you. the numbers about more students of color and more kids of color and kids from low income families spending more time on devices comes from before the pandemic, and children in lower income households are more likely to also use mobile apps that have ad tracking and information collection practices. i think everyone seems to be saying it will be great when schools reopen. screen time was that probably for the pandemic. it will be a problem after.
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we need to create a healthy environment for children online. congress and companies can help. they can move away from business models that prioritize engagement and sensationalized content and move away from behavioral advertising targeting that preys on children's fund abilities. they can provide high-quality, educational content. sesame street is a media product. that is a good product for kids. the internet companies can change the business model and push quality content that respects kids and empowers them to grow and learn. >> in your assessment, youth of color encounter additional challenges from digital media [indiscernible] this is something becoming more evident.
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can you talk about the challenging -- challenges youth of color face and anything congress can do to alleviate these obstacles? >> yes, thank you for that question. digital inequity in the digital divide has been a concern of ours for a long time. we are interested in this issue, and seeing why it has become such a problem. part of the recent youth of color are vulnerable is there is targeted advertising towards them for unhealthy products. as we are still learning during the pandemic, and i anticipate research that will come out as a result of this, i can also look historically back at how in lower income neighborhoods or neighborhoods with large minority populations, alcohol and tobacco billboards were often much more prevalent, like
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a child walking to school in the neighborhood would pass several of these billboards. again, that is historical, but we have also seen that in digital marketing for unhealthy foods, tobacco, marijuana advertising, all which we oppose being targeted towards children, which i am happy to recommend a previous policy statement on that. in addition, we have to look at the environment around children and what is safe. it is not safe to play outside if there are not green spaces. children will spend more time indoors on a screen. thank you. >> thank you. i yield back. >> the chair recognizes the member. for five minutes. >> thank you for recognizing me.
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also, for the hearing today on how to protect children in the digital age. the issue is amplified by the covid-19 pandemic. in ohio, the department of education is reporting learning lag, a decrease in third grade efficiency among students in districts that use of fully remote education model as a primary education model in the fall of 2020. in fully remote districts, third grade proficiency rates decreased by 12%, compared to 8% for other districts using a different model, and 9% for districts using a hybrid model. students are clearly suffering across the country without in-person learning. children are very resilient. however, they are less present
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to the impacts of distant learning. doctor, thank you for your testimony and the wealth of data. many children are struggling with distance learning for a variety of reasons, including lack of social engagement. my colleagues in the majority recently provided over $7 billion to fund more reliance on these small screens. now connecting those without broadband, we should have devoted that money to broadband infrastructure and deliver connectivity to these unserved americans. even before covid, leaving students without connectivity, they do not have the same chance of success. have you seen distinctions on how broadband can be an important bridge for learning? >> absolutely. thank you for the question.
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funding for remote learning good disincentive by schools from reopening for in-person instruction if they get more funding for remote services. one way to impact broadband is to reallocate the funding from institutions to students. there are 28 state legislators who have introduced legislation to fund students, as opposed to systems, mostly in the form of educational savings, where a scholarship account, which would take a portion of the money that would have gone to traditional public schools that students are assigned to, and if they like the remote learning going on in the public school, they can do that and keep that option on the table, but they would take some of that funding to go to a in-person private school or pandemic pod or micro school or other types of learning scenarios. with those savings accounts, it is possible to have state legislatures or the federal
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government approved the funding to be used to access connectivity and broadband as well. it could be used for any approved, government-approved education-related expenditure, and this could in theory fall into that bucket. >> how do schools become responsible stewards of making education more accessible via broadband without that becoming a crutch? >> one way is to incentivize the schools to, allocate the existing resources, particularly because a study finds that resources have not been statistically related to reopening in person and for things like how some income, age , race distributions, and covid risk in the area in the meanwhile, identifying relationships between covid risk and reopening at schools in person. we also found that political partisanship was a strong
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predictor, along with other studies as well, about reopening in person. >> thank you. if i could follow up with another question? in my district, the majority of our schools are open for five days learning a week. i know that is not the norm nationally. you examine the impact of student expenditures on if schools are open for in person learning are not. does the level of funding for students have an impact on the reopening decisions during the covid pandemic? >> we don't find any evidence. this is the only study on this topic the nationwide. we don't find any evidence significantly significant between these findings, measured by revenue for pupils, expenditures for pupils, even different characteristics in the area, no relationship between funding and be more likely to reopen. if anything, in some cases, the remote districts were financially better off than their in-person counterparts,
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and a georgetown university study found recently that remote districts or more likely to have surpluses. in los angeles, they had a $500 million surplus. >> my time is expired. ideal back. >> the gentleman yields back. the gentleman from florida does not recognized for five minutes. >> i thank the vice chair for recognizing me. another big thank you to the chair for calling this very important hearing on protecting kids online. your testimony plays out the harmful effects on children caused by predatory data collection and exposure to inappropriate commercial content. last congress, i introduced two bills, the kids privacy act and the kids back. the kids back, thank you to my
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colleague in the congresswoman for joining me in that effort, addressing the harms caused by these kinds of activities online by the big tech platforms, and our bill proposed to update something and put new safeguards in place to protect kids online, so just to go over a few of the things that are contained in the bill, expanding protections for young consumers age 13 to 17, requiring up in consent --opt i n consent, banning companies from providing targeted advertising to kids, increasing the penalty authority, repealing provisions that allow industry self-regulation, and changing the nonstandard from actual to instructive, among a variety of
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other provisions that really help empower parents and protect kids. do you agree with those updates to protect kids online? are there any more important than others, or are they important as a package? >> i thank you for your leadership on this issue. we agree that these updates are critical and critical because of package. for us, some of the most important are extending protections to teenagers, who as you have heard have their own set of vulnerabilities, ensuring states cannot pretend like they don't have kids, and tiktok and you to pretend like they don't have children, even though they have nursery rhyme videos, small kids in the case of tiktok.
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we think it is important that enforcement gets enhanced. it has been around for over 20 years, and the ftc has brought about 30 cases. we don't think enforcement is sufficient right now. we think it is critical that certain practices should be off-limits, behavioral targeting two young kids is unfair and should not be allowed, no matter what kind of consent is allegedly given. thank you. >> what do you think, doctor? >> thank you for being a champion for this issue. some of the elements you mentioned are laid out in our most recent digital advertising policy statement, which came out in june of last year from the american academy of pediatrics. i would love to look over the legislation to see where else we are on the same page as a thank you so much for that. >> the kids back prohibits
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companies from using design features like auto, push alerts, or any feature that encourages a child to spend more time engaging with the platform and prohibits platforms from amplifying harmful content to children. are we on the right track here? >> once again, a wholehearted yes. kids get hooked on autoplay, spending too much time and watching inappropriate content pushed on them. they get addicted to the badges they receive. there is a reason that we give stickers to children when we want to train them to learn to use the bathroom, because of how they respond to rewards, and what tech companies are doing. >> one way i have thought about it, and share it with parents is if there was a person outside your child's window at home or following them to school, you would call the police. he would not put up with this,
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so it should not be any different for our online platforms. they have enormous amounts of influence, and they are profiting off of this, so i am hopeful. again, i want to give a big thank you to the chair for directing the committee's attention to this important issue. i just want to add, everyone once kids back in school, and thank goodness president biden said all teachers, everyone who works in the school should be vaccinated, and we passed the american rescue plan yesterday to provide the resources for students across the country to operate safely and improve student achievement, so i think we are all on the same page. tanks. i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. the chair is back? ok. the gentlewoman yields back. the next person will be
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recognized for five minutes. member got three. -- guthrie. >> thanks for having the hearing. thank you to the chair and the ranking member. since the covid-19 pandemic began nearly a year ago, kids have been experiencing schooling away from teachers and friends. the result of this is long-standing concerns around digital technology have been brought to the forefront. we continue to hear about the need for students to be physically in the classroom learning and the benefits to a student. there are two school systems in my home county. they have been meeting in person , to some degree, not everybody at the same time. most schools in kentucky spent the summer preparing to allow
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kids to come safely. when it came time to start school, the governor recommended something, and we prepared and have been working and have things in place, so they went forward, much to a lot of criticism from the governor and a lot of people, but if anybody wants to seen example of schools and kids in session, not every kid every day, i am not saying that, but some form of in-person learning, without any evidence of any schools in any students spread, then they can come to bowling green and see how it can be done, because they have been successful. we still have one day in a public setting, and a few miles on the road, it is without incident, not like we will not meet because they have incidents. they are an example of schools being open. but i started out with some
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questions. you mentioned in your testimony how digital media can negatively impact child development. in your practice, how do you help parents or legal guardians find the balance for the children between screen time and physical activity, especially since many kids are learning online? >> thank you, representative guthrie. i have to admit. it is an ongoing challenge. every family is different. i advised them and try to be a coach for finding balance in moderation. i tell parents to give themselves a break. there is unprecedented stress on everyone. parents are being pulled in multiple directions. the last thing we want to do is create more difficulty, more stress and tension in the home, so i have been advising families is not different from before the pandemic, but with a few
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caveats, is to prioritize indolent physical health. way back when, when we just had tv's about, we would recommend no more than two hours of entertainment and recreational screen time a day. that is not a hard and fast rule but it does help to have rules, guidelines, and guardrails but i also tell parents not to be hard on themselves or the kids, because some days might be digital and screen time heavy days, but that is ok. you can work on making the next day a little bit more balanced towards physical activity, towards in-person interaction with other family members to keep things safe, so i am telling parents to get themselves a break, but practice moderation on a wider scale long-term. >> thank you. have you come across research about reopening schools directly and how it correlates to increases in overall covid-19 transmissions or hostile stations from child to child or
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from child to adult spread? >> that is an important question. it is not my area of expertise, but i would recommend reading the guidance on school reopening , because i think that lays it out nicely. >> ok. so schools could reopen safely. correct? that's what we did. i just want to point that out. on also have questions -- i also have questions for another witness. a study found the separation was a challenge for children. from your research, is there any research that indicates in-person is better. >> the research suggests in-person is better on average than virtual learning, so i don't want to say that virtual learning can never work. it can work in certain situations. it is most likely to work in the best way possible when families volunteered select that
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situation and they can make those decisions themselves, but on average, there is a lot of harm as a result of forced version of remote learning we are seeing across the country. >> thank you. i yield back. >> next. i think the german. -- the gentleman. i now want to call on the congresswoman for her five minutes of questioning. >> thank you. children time has increased dramatically in front of screen since the pandemic. my two young girls are six years old and 10 years old and they have grown up with electronics, but nothing like we have seen. it is not because they are home from school. it is the go to during the
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downtime, play dates, and extracurricular activities. we know the more time children spend on screens, the more they step away from engagements with parents, siblings, and physical activities. mental health experts say to increase engagement, and we know this. can you explain the ways companies leverage their understanding of our children's development and keep children on their platform and [indiscernible] that is so harmful? >> sure. thank you for that question. as you said, companies employ all kinds of experts who know how to get to kids and keep them hooked. they use a variety of different features. one of them is the never ending scroll feature. instagram found that when they
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put in a natural pause, people were spending less time on their products, so they decided to move that decision back and put in more content, so kids get a constant stream of new information. another feature that is problematic for kids is seeing how many likes their photographs get or how much engagement from their friends. teenagers are social creatures seeking validation, and this is a way to have how many people like them and how many like their friends numerically listed publicly for everyone. another way social media companies keep kids engaged is through autoplay. they can't step away, because the next video is already starting, and that video is tailor-made often to appeal to him, so there are a variety of ways to keep the social media companies, how they are using those design tactics. >> thank you.
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[indiscernible] you highlight something, especially eating habits, loss of sleep, and it is recommended parents of children six years old and older spend some amount of time on media? is that correct? >> yes, yes, absolutely. go ahead. >> today, even parents who try to do the right thing, try to keep the term healthy by limiting digital media using everything, they are coming face-to-face with products that have been designed to keep our children on their apps longer. that is counter to the
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recommendations of our pediatricians. if products can be engineered to keep users endlessly engage, i imagine they could be designed for something else. what policy changes would incentivize and lead to that shift? >> products can be engaged right now that can be healthier, but i don't see companies doing that on their own. congress needs to act and help them along. in the u.k., the h-appropriate code requires they build with the best interest of children in the products from the ground up with their design. you are not supposed to use nudges in ways that harms children, use their information and targeted advertising or another detriment ways. help kids ways to set their unlimited coming give them visual cues to stop. don't use their information. that is all things companies can do. >> right.
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i have a question, which is not introduced them to facebook messenger kids, using facebook at an age earlier, so parenting during the pandemic, i can only hope that this last year, that it the need for progress urgently, incentives that are pervasive. i thank you for your testimony. i yield back. >>, thank the gentlewoman. -- i think the gentlewoman. i had no idea you have five children. i learned something new today. congressman, you have five minutes for your questions. >> thank you, madam chair. i'm the parent of four children,
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three of them are wrong, but i still have a high school junior. i can tell you that even with some strong parenting, which i think my wife and i have done over the years to help our children deal with the online onslaught of information, that even with that, it is a challenge and i do think congress needs to address some of these issues that have been outlined today. after a year of shutdowns and remote learning, and the hardships that have arisen from the covid pandemic, we have learned that there are some real costs to being in distance learning all year, physical and mental health costs, and as i mentioned, i'm the father of a high school junior. she is a great student, it's not affecting her much. we don't have to prod her to make her classes, but i can tell you that across my district, when i talk to educators, some students, never get online or
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only sporadically, they are not technologically present during instruction. additionally, there's access to broadband issues and i can tell you in my area, affecting rural america in the same way it affects arbor in america. if you look at a map of the united states and look at the percentage of students that don't have access to consistent internet, it is shocking, honestly. so we need to open our schools in person, with the best available data, protecting her students and teachers and employees, but we need to do this again based on the science that is out there in the guidance that is there, rather than relying on politics. mr. d'angelo, affording children access to physical fitness activities that are often not available to millions of students at home, this is something we tend to forget about.
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my daughter is on a crew team and they haven't been on the water now in almost a year. they are at home on rowing machines, if they have one. extracurricular clubs, activities and sports, what are some of the barriers you expect in getting these programs and activities back up and running once in person learning resumes and what can congress do to make sure those efforts go as smoothly as possible? >> this is just another unintended consequence of keeping schools close. we all kind of anticipated the learning loss, then we started to -- started to see job market impacts disproportionately impacting women, now are also seeing physical problems and increases in obesity probably related to the decrease in sports activity. one way to incentivize the schools to reopen person's do not pass the stimulus bills that are not contingent upon reopening schools in person, given that all teachers are
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vaccinated, which i think that water is already under the bridge. another way to incentivize the reopening of schools, and there are couple of bills in congress floating around right now. i think one was introduced yesterday that would reallocate nearly all federal education dollars from institutions to individuals, which would provide strong incentives for the public schools to reopen their doors in person, and as has been found in the brown use mercy study finding that competition generally related to a higher likelihood of reopening the schools in person. i just want to point out, something you pointed out was a great point, that there's a lot of inequities that are a result of this because a lot of the families that are the most advantaged to have choices at the moment. they can afford to pay for private school tuition out of pocket. they can afford to move to school district that is offering in person instruction. they can afford to pay for a tutor at home. they can afford the best remote learning services. so we are really having a
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conversation about what kind of actions will the least advantage happen it comes to services, because the whole debate has not affected the most advantaged in society, so it is leading to inequity, and i'm glad you pointed that out. >> were having a hearing about dangers of online activities that our children are exposed to , and we still have a tremendous number of students who have no choice, they have to be online. i can tell you even with my daughter, who like us it is a good student, we still have to set 10 minutes an hour, no social media. while she is on her computer, she also has her phone, and so we need to get kids back into a better environment. i think that can be done. the american academy of pediatrics has set some guidelines, as has been mentioned. in my district in southwestern
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and west central indiana, the schools have mostly been open since last fall. with proper guidelines in place, and there have been a few covid cases, but overall, consistent with what is happening around the country, not that many. madame chairwoman, i can't see the timeclock, so please remind me if my time is up. >> your time is up. >> ok, then i yelled back. >> mr. mcinerney, you are recognized for five minutes for your questions. >> this is an important issue that tech companies have a hold on her children, and we need to explore that whether there's a pandemic or not. i'm very concerned about the techniques being used by some tech companies that result in addictive behaviors in children. some of this seems like the addictive techniques used in gambling. for example, many video games use real money to purchase game
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rewards and they often do this come of the tech companies do this to -- in manipulative ways. according to a recent survey in the u.k., more than -- children have stolen money from their parents to play these video games. this is a worrisome sign of the effects on children. dr., can you explain how gambling like games are harmful for children? >> thank you very much, representative mcnerney. anything that would encourage kids to stay engaged and could lead to addictive tendencies is a concern for children, their health and mental health. these inapt purchases are another thing that pediatricians believe should be banned, particularly since it's
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something that is really outside the child's level of ability to resist. and it is very concerning that children in the u.k. were actually stealing their parents money are using things without permission. that sort of persuasive design is really dangerous. it's bad for mental health, it's bad for physical health, and we strongly stand against that. is that really is targeting a very vulnerable section of our society. >> do they set up children for addiction to gambling later in life? >> addiction is very complicated, it's difficult to say with certainty that this would set them up for addiction, but it is certainly not good for them. i think we would prefer to call it problematic internet use. if we look at the dsm-v manual, the manual of psychiatric issues, they have mentioned the
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concern of internet gaming disorder, but haven't officially laid a diagnosis to it. so just to be clear and precise, i would hesitate to use the actual word addiction. >> thank you. the industry's response to concerns to require disclosure that a particular videogame contains an in app purchase, how effective is disclosure in these cases? especially with the guard to apps and games intended for children? >> thank you for that question. in general, we think disclosures are not that effective. it's important to put them at the point of purchase, but often kids can't read, so they don't know what in app purchase means. and within the game, there's not enough disclosures. the purchaser themselves, sometimes is not clear to kids that they are even using real money because things are
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referred to as by -- buy gems or sparkle wands. millions of dollars of money have had to be refunded to consumers on some of these platforms like apple and google and amazon, for bilking kids and their parents out of money. >> i want to talk a little bit about artificial intelligence at this point. ai and machine learning are used in targeting and persuasive sign tactics, this practice is everywhere. compared to adults, children and teens are more trusting of things like gps tracking. i think that poses a major risk for children divulging sensitive information. how deplatforms and developers use ai and machine learning in their user interface to target children and monetize their
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data? >> that are tracking them everywhere. the kids don't realize that their location is being shared because they think they haven't actively put it in. they don't realize that the conversation they have with their smart toy is not staying on their toy, but it's going into that ecosystem. companies use all this information to figure out precisely what that kid might want to buy or do next. and use it to create profiles of kids at very young ages. >> thank you, i'm going to run out of time so i will yield back. >> thank you, chair and ranking member for holding this hearing. and thank you to the witnesses for appearing before us today. this pandemic has been particularly troublesome for our youth as the educators have talked about today. students learning remotely are
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missing out on higher quality instruction from the in person attention during formative years of their development. i'm concerned that those lost opportunities will lead to damaging learning gaps, setting back an entire generation. instead of having exposure and social connections at school, students and virtual settings across the country are often isolated, spending more time on the internet then with friends. comparatively, in my state of indiana, there were local community led efforts last summer, together with parents, administrators and local health officials, schools and my district develop comprehensive strategies to ensure students and teachers could safely return to the classroom, which they did. and that's exactly what they did. everyone of the counties in my district had schools that return
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to classroom with success. having students in person provides the structure and stability that is so important for the mental and emotional well-being of children. the on the attention in the classroom, clubs, sports teams and other organizations provided invaluable collective learning environments that cannot be replicated from zoom connections , light leadership skills and social skills. recently i had the opportunity to meet with bright young students at saint nichols catholic school and batesville high school, public school. both schools or prom examples of how local stakeholders are best position to develop school safety strategies that suit the unique educational needs of their community. from my discussions with the students and teachers and administrators, one thing was made clear.
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they feel more purpose when they are in school and involved in person. i show the concerns of my colleagues that the increased online presence of children can be detrimental to their health and safety. shifting children away from in person learning and toward the digital life has surely made more time for editors prowl, which is another argument or in school learning. dr. d'angelo, i'm afraid a scenario of outcomes for students participate virtually versus students that participate in person. in your testimony, you mentioned substantial teaching gaps between these two groups. specifically the increased dropout rate and impact on their future earnings. can you expand on what it will mean for our future generation
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of in particular, community leaders in sports and social interaction. ? i would first like to point out what this is leading to inequity, it's hitting the least advantage in the community the harness, because the most inventive have access to in person alternatives are good versions of remote virtual learning at home or have more ability to cover the costs associated with home-based education, but to your point, there was a nationwide analysis and 2020 on two separate occasions where the estimated achievement gaps would increase, and achievement gaps are already a horrible thing in the united states that we need to remedy. but the gaps are estimated to increase by 15 having 20% and they estimate dropout rates to increase, translating to about 232,000 -- dropping out of high
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school which would translate to $80,000 in reduction of lifetime earnings, which is a huge problem, obviously. there's a lot of evidence and this is just one source finding these exacerbated in cody's from keeping schools close. the best option is to give families options, allow them to choose in person or remote or hybrid learning setting of their choice. so that more families can access other in person alternatives. >> in indiana we have school choice. thank you, madam chair. i yelled back. >> now called on mr. cardin for five minutes of reflection -- ideal back. >> i appreciate the honor of being the sit in chair for just a little bit.
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thank you so much. i appreciate you bringing this committee together on this issue . appreciate this opportunity for us to hear from many different perspectives, what our families and children are going through. but more importantly, being able to dialogue and discuss maybe what some of the solutions are so we can have a better environment so that our children are less negatively affected by all this. i'm also a father and more importantly, a proud grandfather of two grandchildren, ages two and four. they are on devices already, and we need to protect every child is much as possible. of course the responsibility of the individual family raising those children is paramount, and at the same time, i think it's important that government understands that we do have a responsibility of making sure that the guidelines in which these incredibly prolific and
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lucrative businesses are in our homes and in the mind and hearts of our families and our children. and also i would say that it's unfortunate that, we speak of who is negatively affected the most or who in america might not be as prepared as others to protect themselves and to protect their children from the potential negative effects and harmful effects of what could be going on, but let me tell you this, i think it's important to understand that these negative effects do not see color, they do not see race, they do not see gender. a child is a child is a child, and i believe that because about 60% of all children in america are white, it is disproportionally affecting my children. -- white children. we care about all children, and
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i don't want anybody to think that because we mention minority children or poor children in general, that we are leaving out the 60% of the children in america who are white. we are looking to protect every child regardless of their background. let me just go to my first question because time is fleeting. in your testimony, you mentioned that for infants and toddlers still developing cognitive language, central loader and social emotional skills, screen time of any kind is typically discouraged. what do you know about the long-term effects of early exposure to technology like smartphones that can affect children in this area? >> thank you for that question. i will share what we know and what we don't know. there still a lot of unknown and research is developing.
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what we do know from early studies on tablets and devices and apps is that there's very little benefit and strong potential for harm for children under 18 months of age. for children between the ages of 18 months and two years, if it's a high quality educational at that involves parental engagement with the app and the child, and then the parent teaches after they finish using gap, there can potentially be some benefits there. but we do know from decades of research that early introduction to screen time, even if it's purported to be educational, can actually have the opposite effect. for example, we had the baby einstein videos from several years ago. one of my colleagues in pediatrics did a study on that and found that children whose families use the baby einstein videos versus those who didn't use any kind of screen time were actually having developmental delays in terms of expressive language skills.
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so we do know that there can be harms, but we really recommend again, mindful use for older kids, because there can certainly be benefits with certain good educational programming. >> thank you for that important information. i hope that after today's hearing we will keep these issues in focus. i introduced the youth mental health suicide prevention act, a bill authorizing substance abuse and mental health to provide funding to school districts for a variety of positive mental health promotion and suicide prevention purposes. like i said, we all have the interest of every child at heart and i think it's important that congress play its appropriate role in making sure that we create and make sure the lanes are being followed and are being
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created so that our children can remain protected. thank you. i yelled back. -- i yield back. >> thank you, madam chairman. this subject is very important, protecting our children. i have four grandchildren, two of them are elementary school age, and protecting them, they are always on their phones, always on their tablets. this is a very important issue. i totally agree with the subject and i have asked my staff during this hearing, i asked them to write me a decision on some of these bills that both the democrats and republicans on this, in this subcommittee have said that they've introduced. so i will do that and get back
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with you on my decision on those. i also totally agree with mr. deangelis. i'm from arizona, we have lots of school choice in arizona. it started in 1994 and then when we opened up, not only parents could go to different school districts that weren't in their neighborhood, with their kids, but also charter schools were legalized in arizona, so we have many, many charter schools. i also introduced legislation when i was in the state legislature, retirement scholarship account, which is a way now for special needs children to go to private schools using public funds. mr. deangelis, i worked with reason foundation before on pension reform, bipartisan
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pension reform when i was in arizona, and you guys do great work. i totally agree with the concept of more competition, more choices for parents and students. i do want to show everybody an article from a tucson, arizona newspaper that is entitled, no way to check on hundreds of kids missing from schools across tucson. i would like to submit it unanimous consent to included in the record, madame chairman. but i'm going to read -- >> all these will be added at the end of the hearing. >> thank you, madame chairman. some of the things in the article will very disturbing. it says it is unclear what is happening in the lives of over 1100 young people who never show up for online school or only
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attend sporadically. the combined total of students unaccounted for in tucson's seven other major school districts is at least 1160, with some students missing since last spring. on average, calls to an abuse hotline run by arizona's department of child services are down 25%-30%. the agency's director attributes the decrease largely to schools not being held in person. this lack of oversight by teachers and administrators is happening at a time when families and parents are under tremendous stress, social isolation, and sometimes illness. tucson's largest school district , tucson unified school district, is still working to identify how many kids have fallen off the radar. that means a number of unaccounted for children is likely much higher then the 1160
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number coming out of the other school districts across the county. tucson unified school districts have had an enrollment decline of 2600 students since this time last year. the reason i bring this up is because what we've talked about, we need to get kids back in school. in arizona, migraine kids go to a charter school, and guess what, there charter school has been open almost the entire time, and they have not had a covert outbreak. also, because some of the district schools would not reopen, parents have been very creative and they are doing these micro-schools, so even though they are paying all the taxes, the property taxes, everything to the school, they are hiring their own teacher. some parents get together and hire their own teacher. that's why what mr. deangelis says is so important.
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i guess i want to give my last 15 seconds to you, mr. deangelis. i took up most of the time, but tell me why that is important. >> wall street journal wrote an article about -- they've been very successful. you can socially distance better with small settings in a micro school. the reality is, the most advantaged families without school choice have that, so we might as well find students directly with the education savings account to allow more families to have access to those alternatives. >> now i'm happy to call on congresswoman clark. it is your turn for five minutes. >> thank you so much, madam chair and i thank the ranking member for convening today's
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hearing. i thank our witnesses for your expert testimony here today. we all know the covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated many issues that are playing -- plaguing our nation. we've seen a dramatic increase in the adoption of digital devices do to individuals and families working and learning from home. however, along with the uptick in digital device usage, there has been an increase in screen time across our nation during the transition to life online. this transition has had a tremendous impact on one of our nation's most vulnerable and impressionable populations, children. with this increase, i'm concerned about the exposure of advertisements that children are now bombarded with. these ads are concerning lee harmful to a demographic that is unable to comprehend their persuasive impact.
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in your testimony, you mentioned a pew research center report that stated 53% of children younger than 11 view youtube daily, with 35% viewing multiple times per day. additionally, you go on to support that we've discussed time and time again, children from low income communities and communities of color are more likely to utilize mobile devices and have limited connectivity, which limits the productivity of this uptick in screen time. this is all very concerning. however, as i stated, screen time is up for young kids, and they are being targeted with ads from companies, influencers, kid influencers on social media, now more than ever before the pandemic ever struck.
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in your testimony, you mentioned that children are uniquely vulnerable to a harm for a variety of reasons, including increased screen time and the fact that their brains are still developing. what strategies can be used to protect our children from digital manipulation and ad targeting, and how do we hold big tech and advertisers accountable? >> thank you for your question and your leadership in this area. there are lots of things that companies and advertisers can do to be more accountable to children. first, we need to make disclosure ads more meaningful. a surprising number of teenagers cannot even tell that an ad is an ad when it has an orange box that has ad around it. advertising take advantage of
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children dealing with cartoon characters -- we should ban advertisements and as for unhealthy food and drinks, which primarily target communities of color disproportionately. we should stop companies from allowing kids to get more from getting more content or rewards for viewing more advertisements. these are things that congress can do and also things that the federal trade commission should be able to work on by updating its enforcement guidelines. in the meantime, we have seen companies can place themselves and don't need to wait. >> kids are not just learning in front of screens.
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they are spending their leisure time there, too. utilizing services like tiktok with hidden ads that may be harder for children to detect. due to the rise of social media influencer and kid influencers, should this type of influencer marketing be allowed to target kids, and what unintended consequences might this have on their development? >> thank you so much for the question. i wanted to say, i agree with everything. i think those are excellent suggestions. in addition, specifically regarding the question about kid influencers and un-boxing videos, that really is a form of deceptive advertising. kids feel like they are just watching a friend. yet, it is a targeted marketing technique. we support banning that type of advertising toward children.
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it looks like we ran out of time. sorry. >> very well. if you would submit your response to our committee, that would be great. we want to be aggressive, and i thank all of our witnesses for testifying today. madam chair, i yelled back. -- i yield back. >> i have a 13-year-old daughter. i have an 11-year-old son. i was a high school baseball coach along time ago. still the best job i ever had. i appreciate the conversation, particularly about -- [indiscernible] i really do appreciate the fact that we are talking about -- i mean, in everything a school across the country, there is a kid, who that is the great equalizer in his or her own life, and without it, we are leaving them behind.
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sometimes it is poverty issues. sometimes it is family life issues. it's all kinds of different things, but one of the greatest things about covid and maybe one of the only good things is that it happened now and that we are capable of doing this -- technology has allowed us to do these things, but there's no doubt in my mind that we have to get them back into's words, clubs, school as quickly as possible or these gaps will continue to grow, but i want to talk about something that is going to continue to plague us as members of congress outside of schools reopening, and that is how we deal with more screen time and being online. the ftc regulations concerned with coppola defined personal information to include in part geolocation information including street name and name of city or town. this means geolocation data on a
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child which could be a zip code, county, region, etc., could be collected without the parents' notice. i'm not convinced we should be collecting any of this information, but some kids in densely populated areas can be narrowed down to a specific location. i fear the potential harm may outweigh those reasons. we cannot view nonconsensual geolocation data as standalone points. there are so many other data points when viewed in combination with geolocation data. why are we collecting this data? >> that is an excellent
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question. why are companies collecting this information if not to use it to target or profile a kid? there's no reason they need to know one zip code over the other to determine language or country or things like that. one of the things we really like in the kids privacy act is that it would update what forms of information are covered and ensure that in statute and not just ftc rule, they are taking a full look at the modern ways companies track and monetize kids. >> if we look at data through a property lens that of a privacy lens, does this change? >> there's lots of discussions in the broader privacy landscape right now about if this data is
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-- if my privacy is my property, or in europe, my privacy is more of a fundamental right. however you look at it, i think for kids, it is not something we think they should be giving up or being forced to give up. it is not really a choice. it is sort of a false way of looking at consent. children should be able to learn and grow without being surveilled and monitored every step of the way. >> lastly, there's a reason we have juvenile courts. the reason we seal records when they are 18, but we are continuing down this path of holding people accountable when their brains are still developing. >> mr. armstrong, we are going to have to ask for a response in writing. you are well over time.
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oh, i'm wrong. go ahead. >> in gdp are, there are technical challenges with right to be forgotten, so we really have to start having conversations about allowing minors and allowing parents and allowing guardians to be able to block information that kids are reporting online. my daughter said if she did not have a phone, she would not be able to communicate with society. now i am out of time, and i yield back. folks know, you have a couple of seconds to respond. >> i would say that we fully agree. what you do at 10 should not come back and haunt you when you are 40, so we support the right for kids to take control of what they inadvertently or intentionally share at a young age. >> i would say i think it's
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probably members of congress on both sides of the aisle that may not be here if we had social media when we were 13 years old. >> and now, debbie dingell. i know you have been waiting patiently. thanks for sitting with us the whole time. it is years for five minutes. >> thank you, chair, and thank you to all of the witnesses for being here today. i'm not the only member sitting here patiently because the subject is so important. many modern social media platforms are designed to keep users engaged armed -- and are incentivize for re-engagement, leading to what some refer to as addiction to their devices. we have seen an increasing number of reports correlating time on digital media, social media, and electronics to mental health issues in children and adolescents.
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among a variety of other serious impacts including obesity, anxiety, and what really deeply disturbs me, electronic bullying. in an increasingly digital age, we need to be vigilant in reevaluating how online content is consumed by children and ensure they receive both the protections to their privacy and their mental and physical well-being. i want to ask some questions about protections. influencer marketing is now a billion-dollar industry. many of today's top influencers are children themselves. so-called kid influencers, with massive followings on social media. has the ftc brought any enforcement actions against influencers or their sponsors
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that have a significant child audience? >> thank you. that's a great question. the ftc has not, and in fact, current endorsement guidelines don't even talk about kids or teens or special issues that might pertain to them. >> some influencers, including those targeting children, are just as well-known or even more than the brand they promote, get the ftc has taken enforcement action against the brand and not the individual influencers, limiting action to just warning letters. have the ftc's actions been effective? what more should ftc be doing? >> i would say the ftc actions have not been effective. there's been multiple complaints filed against kid influencers. sometimes these folks are making $20 million a year hocking products to children in ways
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that appear not to look like advertisements. i think the ftc should update their endorsement guidelines. they should look at banning endorsement to young kids, certainly, and ideally to teens, and for all endorsements, in general, since sometimes teens are watching things that adults might be watching. right now the #ad that comes at the end of some long piece of information is not sufficient. >> social media platforms facilitate and make a lot of money from influencer marketing. what responsibility do social media companies have to protect kid from aggressive marketing, and what can the ftc due to hold them accountable? >> social media companies can take more responsibility, particularly when they are dealing with individual influencers or other people. they can do a better job of
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being more transparent in ways that are understood by kids and teens about what is an ad and what is native content. the fcc, who has not done as much as we wish they could have done in all these areas, in social media, in privacy, they need more resources so they can do more enforcement and update and codify their regulations and guidelines. >> i want to ask you at least one question before my time is up -- is there concern that the media consumption habits developed by children in adolescence during this pandemic will continue post pandemic, and should we be concerned by the potential impacts in terms of their health and privacy? >> thank you representative. i think it is a huge concern, and i suspect this will continue to be an issue long after the pandemic. as we mentioned earlier, increased social media use, increased screen time was an
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issue well before the pandemic even started. but, you know, making little changes won't mean everything goes back to normal. i think it will continue to be an issue. we have somewhat mixed data. i'm grateful to you for bringing up concerns about mental health and the connection to social media. we have conflicting information. for some kids, it has led to sadness for, i guess, it is correlated with sadness, possibly depression, but for other kids, it has been a lifeline. for marginalized kids, come times finding community online can be a huge source of support. >> thank you i have to yield back, but i have to say our children are our future and it is our responsibility to ensure their safety online. >> thank you very much, chairwoman. i'm glad the committee has convened this important hearing. the long-term impacts on our children are one of the greatest
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travesties of the covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns. the amount of time kids spent in front of screens has been a health concern for some time here the problem has been vastly exacerbated by the pandemic. the science is where -- clear that schools across the country have the ability to reopen safely today. i also appreciate dr. deangelis rightly pointing out the schools in america are largely most purely due to politics. -- largely closed purely due to politics. all schools in my district, florida's second district, are safely open for in person learning at this time. parents across the country know the best thing for their kids is to be in school. this even includes the heads up powerful teachers unions who drop their own children off at
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private school at the same time they are fighting to keep public school kids out of school behind a computer screen at home. i have been an advocate for school choice for a long time. i think the best thing we can do for school-age children is to empower the parents to seek out the best educational opportunities available, so i have a question for dr. deangelis -- families are especially vulnerable to economic and educational impacts of covid-19 and the lockdowns. many parents have been forced to work longer hours to provide essential services and work from multiple locations. this obviously impacts their ability to provide adult supervision for their own children. briefly, would you say school choice allows households of all socioeconomic groups the best chance for parents to place students in an educational setting that fits the needs of their individual family? >> absolutely. as i noted before, the most advantaged families already have
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school choice. they can already afford to live in the neighborhoods with the best schools in america. they are more likely to be able to afford the cost of home based learning and micro schools and pandemic pods. funding students directly through programs like the ones in florida allow more families to access alternatives, so at least more equity and more freedom at the same time, and i think that's a lot of the reason why florida has done such a good job when it comes to reopening. >> you are very articulate on that. you shared a statistic that i think is worth repeating. florida has been able to essentially fully reopen schools, but california, which spends about 38% more per student has kept their doors close. with your research on this issue, what role should the federal government play to incentivize -- to minimize screen time and return to the classroom? >> is it's not a good idea to
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pass stimulus bills that don't make the money contingent upon actually reopening the schools because then the schools can just get more money and failed to reopen the schools, especially in context of my new study at m.i.t., finding no relation whatsoever in any models between resources and reopening schools in person. as you pointed out, looking at places like florida and california, california spends 38% more per pupil per year according to the u.s. census bureau, and yet florida is mostly -- >> i'm going to cut you off because i want to get to a couple more questions, but you have been very articulate, and i appreciate your presence. you work as a pediatrician. as a doctor myself, i know the challenges you face. covid-19 has drastically changed the lives of all americans, especially our students who find themselves sitting in front of a computer more and playing
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outside less along with a complete absence of physical education. in your testimony, you recommend specifying times where families turn off the screens and play. can you speak to the long-term impacts of less outside play and physical education students have experienced over the last year? >> sure. thank you. i have an opportunity to refer you to another aap policy on the importance of play and the importance of making sure that children have a safe environment to play an outside. specifically asking about the long-term impacts of essentially sedentary impacts and lack of physical activity -- we have known for years, as we have seen, screen time increase, device use increase, that non-active time is not a good thing for kids. i've been working with parents -- >> i must ask you to put that in
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the written responses because my time has elapsed. i will also ask you to conjecture in your response to that question, we know that a lot of screen time is bad for kids. it is also bad for members of congress? i would like you to consider that option because i think it is. quick thank you, chairwoman. i would like to ask a question. in 2019, the new york state attorney general and the ftc secured a settlement from google and youtube for $170 million for violating kobach -- cobra -- the copa. the 136 million dollar penalty
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is still i believe the largest amount the ftc has ever obtained in a copa case since congress enacted the law in 1998. despite that enormous amount of money, two commissioners voted against it, citing that the penalty did not go far enough, and one of the reasons was because the cost of doing business, $170 million is nothing compared to the billions of dollars that these companies make from address an. in your opinion, have these penalties been an effective deterrent for companies who violate the laws that are meant to protect children's privacy, and if not, what steps can the ftc take to deter violations? i hope we will be able to consider congresswoman castor's bill, but in your opinion, is it effective, and if not, how can
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we make it effective? >> thank you, representative rice. in my opinion, it is not effective. google is still able to profit off of this activity, and the number was so small they did not even have to report it to investors. they also got the first over advantage of taking a bunch of children's personal information and being able to design better targeting and more addictive and attractive products to kids, and that is not something they are going to give up, even if they delete, which sometimes companies do not always delete as they are supposed to -- the data later on. i think we have seen with settlements in the privacy space -- we objected to the facebook settlement -- these are not meaningful deterrence to companies.
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fines could be increased, it could get civil penalty authorities from congress. in some situations, it could get rulemaking authority. right now, in general privacy cases, it is not even have the ability to find -- fine for the first violation. we say the ftc needs more resources it to bring more cases. attorneys general could get more civil penalty authorities, and also, let parents take action on behalf of their kids. >> new york has a very big office with enormous resources, but that is not true of every state in the country. we want i believe states attorneys general to play a critical role in working with the ftc on these types of cases. what tools do state attorneys general need to bring these
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cases like new york was able to do? >> thank you. new york is one of them were technically savvy attorney general's office is -- offices. states need more technologists to understand what's going on beneath the opaque veneer of these technology companies. we hear all the time from attorneys general that they don't have resources. they are only able to bring one case a year maybe because they are understaffed and under resourced. >> that is always a big issue when you deal with cybersecurity issues. private companies are able to attract all the talent because of the in norma's salaries that they can pay that government agencies simply cannot. quickly, expanding this protection to children between the ages of 13 and 17 -- what will the impact be?
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i have a 15-year-old niece, and i worry about, you know, the impact of teens living their lives on social media, especially with all this information coming out, the impact, how this will help 13 and 17-year-old vulnerable kids. >> thank you, representative rice. i think the effect will be huge. so many teens are online. as you mentioned, they were living their lives online even before the pandemic. children under 18, i think this legislation will have a huge impact. >> thank you all for being here. i yelled back, madame chairwoman. >> the gentleman yields back. i call on representative so -- representative soto. >> thank you so much, madame chair. this hearing is about our children being increasingly brainwashed by sophisticated targeting, pop-up ads, and
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algorithms among other techniques, and the result is they are spending more and more time online. we see a generation of kids becoming couch potatoes, racking up hours of screen time and barely going outside. this puts our nations children, our nations future at risk. parents are increasingly asking congress to act. considering the critical subject, i was a little surprised at the attempt to shoehorn fake gop talking points about school re-openings into this very important hearing, so it is important to at least go over the facts briefly. 41 states, but democrats and republicans, do not have school opening or closing orders in place. they leave it to school districts. five states have orders to be open. four states have orders to be partially open. saying it is a democrat or republican trend is an absolute and total lie. the vast majority of states
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leave this to local school district to make a decision, as they should because urban districts have different challenges than suburban and rural districts. in my district, affluent families have more resources for their children have to go -- for their children to learn from home. other families have to go to work and leave their children to learn from home. i supported schools reopening, like many democrats in our state, so what are you really talking about? my wife taught in the public schools at the pandemic in july and august of last year. in the classroom with a mask on, socially distanced, with kids having plastic barriers. she is a member of the teachers union. she cares about her students and taught them in school without a vaccine, risking her life for the students, so i find it shocking that no one here today has even mentioned the hundreds of teachers who die of covid-19.
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students have died. in florida, we have already had what he 5000-plus cases of students, nearly five thousand teacher cases of covid-19, 3000 staff cases. bashing teachers unions is so predictable for some of you. actually fixing the problem takes work. when we passed the bipartisan coronavirus stimulus relief act in december, some of our colleagues across the aisle joined us. thank you. if the three of you, including some on this committee, voted against school coronavirus relief funds. just yesterday, all of you voted against the american rescue act. you're complaining about opening schools, then voting against funding for them to do so safely . that is absolutely absurd, and the american people know it. turning back to the subject at hand, many parents have opted
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for distance learning, and this has exacerbated these online addictions. i want to go to the kids act briefly that kathy castor put together, and i want to talk to ms. johnson first. what are do you think the most important parts of the kids act that we need to pass right away? >> thank you, representative. i think we need to pass all aspect, but the manipulative design that keeps kids hooked and the protections that would prevent the commercialization of our children and marketing are really important. i also think it is important to note that schools use and lot of technology, and we need to update our student privacy laws and other privacy laws because wherever kids are learning, if they are in the classroom or not, a lot of these schools have bought computers and new technology and they are going to keep using it no matter where kids are, and we need to keep its productive and safe.
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>> thank you. what do you think are the most critical parts of the kids act that we need to pass right away? >> thank you for that question, representative. again, i'm going to go back to our aap recommendations, which are nicely outlined in our policy. the number one thing is to expand copa to ban targeted advertising to children under 18 and also make sure they have the highest privacy levels possible and to really stop online trafficking and data collection of kids. quick thank you so much. this is a really important subject. i'm glad we are handling it today. we know with kids being at home, distance learning, some of it my parents' own choice, we have to find ways to protect our kids online, and i yelled back. >> thank you. i really want to thank you for your testimony and your remarks, mr. soto.
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now, congresswoman craig, it is your five minutes. >> thank you so much, madame chairwoman. thank you for holding this incredibly important hearing today. dr., i also want to thank you for representing the mayo clinic so well in the great state of minnesota and for helping to keep your kids and families safe and healthy. i'm just thrilled that you are on our panel and i get to ask you a few questions. i would like to start with kids online during covid and just share that as the mother of four boys, i know it can be a challenge to consistently and diligently in force screen time for our kids, particularly during a public health crisis when so many of our children, our students, have been learning remotely or partially hybrid. this in fact is the case for our youngest son, who is a senior in
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high school this year, and i guess our own experience in our family is that it comes harder as kids get older and maybe become more independent, which is why i think that trying to instill good habits and stricter limits on younger kids is so important. but parents trying to do the best thing and start these habits early really do face an uneven playing field as they try to compete in a digital ecosystem that, as you know, is replete with features intended to influence user behavior while maximizing engagement. in terms of the policy recommendations to congress that you have made in your testimony today, would you consider any of them being particularly critical , as you sort of segmented, to younger children, those ages two to 10, for example?
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>> hello, representative craig. thrilled to be reaching you from southeast minnesota. thank you for that question. number one, i just want to say i hear you. the concerns you are stressed about children and parents having a hard time is absolutely what i been hearing from pretty much all my patients here today. in looking at how to protect kids around ages two to 10, what are the most important things, again, i think we should make sure there are not any loopholes in coppa. even though technically, they are not supposed to target children in advertising or gather information on kids under 13, i think the more we can do to tighten up those loopholes to ensure there is appropriate enforcement, if there is any sort of breaking of those rules would be absolutely critical. >> thank you so much. you also mentioned in your testimony the need for more research on the effects of advertising and digital media in
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children. i certainly could not agree more with that recommendation as well. i have a follow-up question. i wanted to direct this to ms. fox johnson. i appreciate you have provided us with a number of recommendations as well from your perspective and common sense. are there any of these recommendations you feel would be particularly helpful for parents with younger children who could be thinking about limiting their screen time and what they are exposed to online? >> thank you representative. that's a great question. i think the kids act would be particularly beneficial for young children, and another thing would be the children and media research advancement act. passing that would give funding so we can better study the long-term longitudinal effects of all kinds of screen time on
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all kids. it would be incredible to have studies funded not by the industry. >> i appreciate so much the two of you being here. with that, i will yelled back a minute of everyone's life. >> next, let me call on ms. fletcher. thank you for waiting. >> thank you so much. i'm here and i really appreciate you organizing today's hearing. i appreciated the testimony of our witnesses, both the britain testimony that has been submitted, the hearing from you all today has been really helpful in working with these issues that communities across the country, and mine, are facing throughout this pandemic
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and more broadly, these concerns about keeping kids online safely , increasing use of digital media, and how we move forward is really, really important. i have a few questions, but i want to follow up on some of the things my colleagues have asked. your testimony, you shared that 75% of children between the ages of eight and 11 cannot to sting wish between ads among content, and i think it is really important to drill down on this. you mentioned that children who see online ads are significantly more likely to use those products, and you touched on this in response to representative dingell's questions. one of the things you mentioned was the #ad sponsored media post is not sufficient. what other things that can be done to indicate changing consumer habits, especially in
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children and maybe even more broadly, research efforts that you would recommend to be able to determine what we can do and what we can't? >> research shows that really young kids -- four or 5 -- they don't even know that and add -- an ad is an ad. as kids get older, they don't know that the purpose of it is to sell them something. now, it is even more confusing. you might think you are reading a "teen vogue" article and not realize that facebook has in fact sponsored it. you might be playing a game and not realize that coca-cola has paid for the game. you maybe watching an un-boxing video and not realize that is product placement. the research shows kids don't understand the stuff and the internet has made it much more confusing.
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also, they can be much more problematic for kids because they are personally targeted to them, designed to appeal to that individual based on what they have done in the past. we need more research, as i mentioned. we need's like the -- we need things like the cmra act. >> thank you. kind of on a related note -- i agree. i think this legislation, is it's really important for us to be looking at research at nih, but one of the challenges we face in congress is that it does take a while to respond. how do we make sure tools that are in place to up-to-date?
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how do we make sure we can respond to the quick pace of technology that moves a whole lot faster than congress? what do you think you and should do? >> if you give more funding, they will be able to hire more technologists, more attorneys and other experts. we propose having a division specifically focused on kids or specifically focused on privacy and technology at the ftc. another tool we have seen with coppa, it was passed over 20 years ago but happily was at least updated in 2013 by the ftc, so any future laws can give them the ability to be a little more noble, even though they are not as nimble as tech companies. >> thank you very much. i just have a few more seconds, but i would like to direct my
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last question. what do you wish had been in place in terms of digital infrastructure and safeguards, prior to the pandemic in order to help families manage this difficult time? >> thank you, representative fletcher. essentially, what i wish for is what we have outlined and recommended, which would be stronger protections, no targeting for kids under 18 and really kind of closing those loopholes that unfortunately tech companies can exploit. yes, ideally everything listed on our wish list for years, but thank you. >> thank you for that, and it coincides with the end of my five minutes. i yelled back. >> thank -- i yield back. >> thank you. the gentlelady yields back. we welcome people who are not on the subcommittee to ask questions. in this case, we have two
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people. i'm going to call first on congressman wahlberg. five and its of questioning for you. >> i think the gentlelady, and i appreciate the opportunity to join this subcommittee today on a very, very important issue where i think we have a lot of bipartisanship as well, so i'd appreciate that. families in my district tell me day after day that their children are frustrated, lonely, and sad. kids who once were good students and athletes are now struggling with depression and anxiety. they recently describe the feeling as being totally trapped, and i have been advocating to safely reopen schools since last summer. i think it is time, frankly, to do it. it is unacceptable for leaders in charge to be dragging their feet for political purposes at the expense of our children. again, my opinion.
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i would like to give dr. deangelis a moment to respond to some of my colleagues' statements. dr. deangelis is an expert witness in how our kids are being impacted by being constantly online. he deserves to be heard, so dr. deangelis, would you like to speak briefly? about the political dynamics regarding school reopening decisions? >> absolutely. we cannot sit here and cover our ears acting like the teachers unions have nothing to do with fighting against the reopening of schools for in person instruction every step of the way in some new places. every single study that has been done on the topic -- and there have been about a handful and i have done one or 2 -- have been that the strongest indicators indicate its political partisanship and the strength of the teachers unions in the local area. there has been a brown
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university paper on this. there has been a publication in social science quarterly. a brookings university scholar has also been using national data that the covid risks did not predict the reopening of schools but the political partisanship in the air -- >> did we lose him? am i still on? >> yes, mr. wahlberg, you are still on. >> but we lost him. i think he made some strong points. i'm not going to suggest there was any sort of untoward action at all. that is the challenge we face with this, so i get it. i get it. madam chair, as i mentioned at the beginning of this hearing, i'm proud to introduce and
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reintroduce the protect kids act with my good friend and colleague. the bill represents i believe a reasonable commonsense and bipartisan agreement that better reflects the realities of today's online world and strengthens children's digital safety. currently, the children's online privacy protection act imposes requirements on website operators that specifically deal with information -- personal information of children 13 years of age and younger. i would like to turn to ms. fox johnson, and thank you for being here. i understand that my time is limited, so if you could answer me, just yes or no, and i hate that request, but i have to ask you this time, do you agree that the coppa law has by and large succeeded in congress' attempt to protect children's digital footprint and remains relevant
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today? yes or no? >> no. >> thank you. >> i understand you also authored a piece called "13 going on 30." one of your conclusions is to extend coppa to include adults as well. is it fair to say you would support a strong national standard without a private right of action as coppa has succeeded in doing? again, be brief if you can. >> i cannot speak to it without knowing what is in the bill, but one of coppa's shortcomings is that it does not cover any to 13, and sites can pretend it does not apply to them, and if it covers everyone, they can no longer pretend that. >> thank you. i would like to point out that while there are much-needed reforms, coppa has been effective for 20 years.
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it needs to be amended. it needs to be updated. i agree, but i certainly would ask my democratic colleagues that work in a bipartisan manner as congressman rush and i have done to modernize this law, reforming the law with a provision aimed at helping trial lawyers certainly does not help kids, and with that, i appreciate being involved, and i yield back. >> the gentleman yields back. now i call on last but certainly not least congresswoman blunt rochester. >> thank you very much, madame chairwoman. thank you for this important hearing. thank you for your leadership on updating coppa, and to the witnesses for attending this hearing and for your patience waiting for me to come back. i was worried that everyone, especially children, would
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increasingly be exploited by manipulative digital practices known as dark patterns. sadly, the testimony today confirms these concerns and fears, and as a few of our witnesses testified, these trends are worse for lower income households as children in the may spend significantly more time with screens then those of households with greater wealth. the gap grows more so when considering race and ethnicity. as many have noted, we all should have serious concerns for ethical and public health reasons. we may soon have a generation that only sees the exploit of potential for the innovative technologies of the future. my question -- i will start with you, ms. fox johnson, and it really follows up on the previous question. i believe congress needs to act and address dark patterns such
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as design choices that are intended to manipulate individuals into using products or services without their consent or for little personal gain, especially when applied to children, and we also see tech designs subverting parental choice, but you mentioned a troubling, though natural, parent-child relationship. as children grow older, their parents supervise their behaviors less. my question is for older kids and teens, do you believe that the submergence of their choice is a unique problem and why? >> thank you for that question. we think that children and teens need to be recognized for their evolving capacities. you cannot treat a teenager exactly the same way you would treat a young child. teens still need special protections and safeguards, and we can think of them like training wheels or like your temporary driver's permit, right? they still need help, but they should be empowered in learning
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how to make more choices for themselves. the u.k. age-appropriate design code is an excellent example of this. it talks about meeting kids and teens where they are and doing things appropriate to their mental capacity. >> excellent. don't we need more research to understand how dark patterns affect teens? >> 100%. we need research to learn how dark patterns affect kids, teens, adults, and that is one thing that the cmra act supports. >> do we know how companies are designing products in relation to teens, such as specific design choices targeted to the age group? >> teens are the canary in the coal mine, and they also are a very attractive target for these companies, and they are designing products to hook kids early and keep them for life. >> my last question goes to the issue of transparency.
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as you and my colleagues have defined -- had identified, often personal information his mind -- is mined, but it goes deeper than we know. a few years ago, facebook came under scrutiny for conducting psychological experiments on children without their knowledge. do we know if the lack of transparency continues to be a significant problem? >> these studies definitely involve teenagers and probably involve, for all we know, everyone on social media company sites. one of the biggest albums with these studies is we are just finding out because there will be a leaked news report or rogue employee. there's so much data these companies have. a researcher would have to get consent and go through processes. these companies can largely do whatever they want with all the massive stores of data they have
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and conduct research on all of us without our knowledge. >> thank you for answering that question. i will say i think one of my colleagues mentioned there are opportunities for bipartisan sick -- bipartisanship here. thank you so much, madame chairwoman, for your leadership as we look at these issues that affect everyone, but particularly affect our children. i go back the balance of my time. -- i yield back the balance of my time. >> thank you. i would like to thank our panelists for their participation in today's hearing. before we conclude, i request unanimous consent to enter the following documents into the record, and there's quite a list. a written statement from the national center for missing and exploited children, a letter from prevent blindness, an
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article from vox, an article from "the chicago sun-times," an article from "the globe," an article from npr, an article from all around ann arbor, an article from the world health organization, an article from the "new york times," an op-ed in "the chicago tribune," an op-ed in "the los angeles times," an article from "the wall street journal," an article from "usa today," an article from "the arizona daily star." if there are no objections, and i hear none, so ordered. i remind members that pursuant
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to committee rules, they have 10 days to submit additional questions for the record to be answered by the witnesses who have appeared. i asked each witness to respond promptly to any questions, and i know there were some because people were running out of time, and at this time, with a lot of gratitude for the participation by the

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