As some states try to regulate children’s social media use and TikTok emerges as a geopolitical chew toy, a new clearinghouse has emerged for mediating between tech companies and those concerned about their products’ impact on kids: the Digital Wellness Lab at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Why it matters: Young people live their lives on social media, and it’s not going away — so parents and pediatricians need to learn to recognize when it becomes a problem, says pediatrician Michael Rich, the lab’s founder.
Where it stands: Rich founded the Digital Wellness Lab in 2021 to look at the unknown health consequences of the surge in kids spending six-plus hours a day online.
What they’re saying: “After close to 30 years of doing this research, I grew tired and frustrated with the fact that it was in a polarized, adversarial environment,” says Rich, a professor at Harvard Medical School and a doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital.
Rich — a former filmmaker who calls himself the “Mediatrician” — is pulling the constituencies together to hammer out ground rules based on science and common sense.
Driving the news: Bowing to pressure, TikTok recently set a 60-minute screen time limit for children under 18 (albeit one that kids or their parents can bypass by punching in a code) — after seeking advice from the Digital Wellness Lab.
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