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Assembly Dems Legislation to Help Kids Avoid Pitfalls of Social Media Use Advanced by Senate Panel

Riley, Moriarty, Conaway, Lampitt, Wimberly & Mosquera Bill Aims to Educate Young People About Online Privacy

A Senate panel on Thursday advanced legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Celeste Riley, Paul Moriarty, Herb Conaway, Jr., M.D., Pamela Lampitt, Benjie Wimberly and Gabriela Mosquera to create a web campaign to inform young people about online privacy and social media responsibility.

“Many young people use social media, but don’t really understand that the information and images they share online live in perpetuity,” said Riley (D-Cumberland/Gloucester/Salem). “Educating our kids about the perils of sharing personal information online will help them make better decisions about what is and what is not appropriate for the web.”

The measure (A-2933) would direct the state Department of Law and Public Safety to operate a website with information about how to protect one’s privacy on the Internet, how to use social media responsibly, how to protect one’s privacy while using social media, and the potential negative consequences of failing to do so.

“Social sites allow us to connect with friends and family around the world, but they can also be breeding grounds for predators,” said Moriarty (D-Camden/Gloucester). “This campaign will help our young people make responsible decisions and avoid the dangers that lurk online.”

“One poor decision can haunt you into adulthood,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “Young people need to know that what they share on the web is public and permanent. By letting them know how to protect themselves, they will hopefully think twice about oversharing online.”

Under the bill, the department must produce or hire someone to produce instructional videos on how to use the privacy settings on popular websites and social media platforms and post them on the website. The department must also maintain an active presence on popular social media platforms and use these platforms to disseminate information relating to the campaign, and to encourage young people to access the information on the website.

“As the influence of social media continues to grow, it’s important that we teach young people how to avoid the pitfalls that can arise,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “Taking a collaborative approach to the issue will help ensure a more effective educational strategy.”

“There have been far too many tragedies that have arisen from poor choices made on the Internet,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “We need to educate kids on responsible social media use early so that one poor decision doesn’t follow them for a lifetime.”

“Gone are the days when kids can only access the Internet through one family computer shared and monitored at home,” said Mosquera (D-Camden/Gloucester). “With the proliferation of smart phones they can access it anytime, anywhere so it requires a coordinated partnership to make sure they’re using it responsibly.”

The bill authorizes the department to partner with student organizations, state academic institutions, and local and state agencies to generate content for the website or to develop and promote training programs and seminars designed to support the campaign. The department may also develop an internship program to assist in creating content for the website, disseminating information through the website, or in any other manner that is relevant to the campaign.

The bill, which was approved today by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, already received approval from the full Assembly in June and now awaits final legislative approval by the full Senate.