Letter - Measures needed to enhance online safety

In May, the U.S. Surgeon General warned about the dangers of social media for kids and teens, particularly regarding body image issues and among teenage girls. This comes as American teenagers are facing significant mental health challenges, as reported by the CDC.

I graduated from Hinsdale Central in 2020. I took a job in technology policy where I began to understand the implications of these technologies. Recognizing the personal significance of these issues, I co-founded a youth-led coalition called Design It For Us, to advocate for safer online platforms. We aim to achieve policy reforms that protect kids, teens and young adults online, engaging with lawmakers and regulators to hold Big Tech accountable. This is personal for my generation.

While driving national policy changes, Hinsdale can also play a crucial role. Social media platforms and devices have been designed to captivate and addict us. It is not the fault of children and parents but rather the responsibility of tech companies to ensure our protection. Older teenagers can also develop a safe social media usage plan and become advocates against Big Tech. Schools should teach students how to safely navigate social media, not just focusing on traditional software skills. In Hinsdale, we should acknowledge the social pressures surrounding early social media adoption and the pressure to provide smartphones to children.

Design It For Us is the first youth-led organization addressing tech policy, and we would greatly appreciate your support. Visit http://www.designitforus.org to follow our work. – Zamaan Qureshi, Hinsdale