Governor Murphy Signs Legislation to Establish Commission to Study Effects of Social Media Usage on Youth

With concerns growing over the impact of social media on young people, Governor Phil Murphy today signed legislation to establish a commission to study the effects of social media usage both in and out of school on adolescents. The work of this commission will build on the Governor’s ongoing efforts to address the mental health needs of New Jersey youth.

“Social media use is undoubtedly a significant part of many young people’s lives these days, which is why it is so critical to determine the full scope of its impact on students,” said Governor Murphy. “By establishing this commission, we will better understand how social media use – both in and out of school – is affecting the physical and mental health, safety, and academic performance of students to help mitigate any negative repercussions and protect the well-being of New Jersey’s youth.”

Under the bill (S-715/A-1992), the Commission on the Effects of Social Media Usage on Adolescents will work to determine:
the extent of social media usage both in and out of public schools, including the average amount of time students in various age groups spend each day on electronic devices;
the effects that use has on the emotional health of students, including incidents of depression, anxiety, body dysmorphia, harassment, intimidation/bullying, or other disruptive behaviors;
the effects that use has on the academic performance of students;
and the effects that use has on the physical health of students, including incidents of sleep deprivation, weight loss or gain, or high blood pressure.

The commission will issue a final report detailing its findings, including proposed social media usage standards, effective strategies to mitigate the adverse effects of social media usage on student health and academic performance, and any other recommendations to help improve student health and academic performance in connection with social media usage.

The commission will be comprised of 19 members including the Commissioner of Education, four public members appointed by legislative leaders, and 14 members appointed by the Governor – including a school nurse, an expert on the collection/analysis of data concerning social media, two public school students, two parents of students enrolled in a public school, and representatives from various education, psychology, and child advocacy organizations specified in the bill.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve on the social media commission, as we study the impact of social media on adolescents,” said Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan, Acting Commissioner of Education. “I recognize the tremendous importance of comprehending how digital platforms shape our youth’s lives, both academically and emotionally. This commission represents a vital platform to review evidence-based research, draw insights from experts, and engage in open dialogue to craft effective policies and practices. Together, we will empower New Jersey students with the knowledge, resilience, and digital literacy needed to navigate the virtual world responsibly, ensuring that social media becomes a catalyst for positive growth and meaningful connections.”

Sponsors of the legislation include Senator Richard Codey and Assemblyman Herb Conaway, as well as Senator Edward Durr and Assembly Members Carol Murphy and Benjie Wimberly.

“We have a responsibility to protect our kids and provide them with the resources and support they need to live healthy, successful lives. As smartphones and social media become deeply ingrained in our society, we must take steps to understand their impact, particularly where it affects our young people. We know the heavy use of social media by adolescents can have serious negative consequences for their life and health,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway. “In the last decade, teen suicide rates have doubled after a prior two decades of decline, and researchers correlate this to the widespread use of social media. The commission created by this law will establish evidence-based guidelines so we can best support the physical and emotional health of New Jersey students in a world where social media and smartphones are commonplace.”

“The New Jersey School Boards Association thanks Gov. Murphy and the Legislature for their work in establishing the Commission on the Effects of Social Media Usage on Adolescents,” said Dr. Timothy Purnell, Executive Director and CEO of the New Jersey School Boards Association (NJSBA). “In the last few years there has been an alarming increase in the number of students with mental health challenges. School districts have needed to add counseling staff and services to help address this crisis. NJSBA believes that the effects of social media on the development of children have not been fully researched, and we lack an understanding of the long-term impact of this technology. That view was supported by the May 23 advisory warning from the United States surgeon general, who said that there are ample indicators that social media can have a profound risk of harm to the mental health and well-being of children and adolescents. As one of the organizations that will be represented on the Commission we look forward to working on this important effort to strengthen student mental health, and we commend New Jersey’s leaders for taking this critical step to protect the health of our students.”

“On behalf of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association (NJPSA), I extend my gratitude to Senators Codey and Durr for their sponsorship of S-715 and to Governor Murphy for his endorsement of the commission to study effects on adolescents of social media usage in and out of school,” said Karen Bingert, Executive Director of New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association.

“The most powerful tool of our time slipped silently into the pockets of our children in the form of a smartphone, but, like every tool, there are risks and repercussions for its misuse and overuse. Social media, an equally powerful and risky tool in the hands of our youth, has the potential to cause deeper and more lasting bruises on our children’s psyches and well-being than hitting your thumb with a hammer would, and this commission is tasked with the important role of identifying those risks, creating plans to mitigate them, and helping our schools and families find the happy balance with social media that may help our children live happily balanced lives. NJPSA looks forward to participating in this important work and commends the legislature and Governor Murphy for their proactive steps to protect our children.”





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  1. When I went to school no one had these phones and tablets, but today everything is different, that’s why everyone is so anti social

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