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Opinion | How Changing One Law Could Protect Kids From Social Media – The New York Times



Parenthood has always been fraught with worry and guilt, but parents in the age of social media have increasingly confronted a distinctly acute kind of powerlessness. Their kids are unwitting subjects in a remarkable experiment in human social forms, building habits and relationships in an unruly environment designed mostly to maximize intense engagement in the service of advertisers.

It’s not that social media has no redeeming value, but on the whole it is no place for kids. If Instagram or TikTok were brick-and-mortar spaces in your neighborhood, you probably would never let even your teenager go to them alone. Parents should have the same say over their children’s presence in these virtual spaces.

We may have the vague impression that that would be impossible, but it isn’t. There is a plausible, legitimate, effective tool at our society’s disposal to empower parents against the risks of social media: We should raise the age requirement for social media use, and give it real teeth.

It might come as a surprise to most Americans that there is an age requirement at all. But the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, enacted in 1998, prohibits American companies from collecting personal information from children under 13 without parental consent, or to collect more personal information than they need to operate a service aimed at children under 13. As a practical matter, this means kids under 13 can’t have social media accounts — since the business models of the platforms all depend on collecting personal data. Technically, the major social media companies require users to be older than 12.

But that rule is routinely ignored. Almost 40 percent of American children ages 8 to 12 use social media, according to a recent survey by Common Sense Media. The platforms generally have users self-certify that they are old enough, and they have no incentive to make it hard to lie. On the contrary, as a 2020 internal Facebook memo leaked to The Wall Street Journal made clear, the social media giant is especially eager to attract “tweens,” whom it views as “a valuable but untapped audience.”

Quantifying the dangers involved has been a challenge for researchers, and there are certainly those who say the risks are overstated. But there is evidence that social media exposure poses serious harms for tweens and older kids, too. The platform companies’ own research suggests as much. Internal documents from Facebook — now known as Meta — regarding the use of its Instagram platform by teens point to real concerns. “We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” the researchers noted in one leaked slide. Documents also pointed to potential links between regular social media use and depression, self-harm and, to some extent, even suicide.

TikTok, which is also very popular with tweens and teens, has — alongside other social media platforms — been linked to body image issues as well, and to problems ranging from muscle dysmorphia to a Tourette’s-like syndrome, sexual exploitation and assorted deadly stunts. More old-fashioned problems like bullying, harassment and conspiracism are also often amplified and exacerbated by the platforms’ mediation of the social lives of kids.

Social media has benefits for young people, too. They can find connection and support, discover things and hone their curiosity. In responding to critical reports on its own research, Facebook noted that it found that by some measures, Instagram “helps many teens who are struggling with some of the hardest issues they experience.”

Restrictions on access to the platforms would come with real costs. But, as Jonathan Haidt of New York University has put it, “The preponderance of the evidence now available is disturbing enough to warrant action.” Some teen users of social media see the problem, too. As one of Meta’s leaked slides put it, “Young people are acutely aware that Instagram can be bad for their mental health yet, are compelled to spend time on the app for fear of missing out on cultural and social trends.”

That balance of pressures needs to change. And as the journalist and historian Christine Rosen has noted, preaching “media literacy” and monitoring screen time won’t be enough.

Policymakers can help. By raising the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act’s minimum age from 13 to 18 (with an option for parents to verifiably approve an exemption for their kids as the law already permits), and by providing for effective age verification and meaningful penalties for the platforms, Congress could offer parents a powerful tool to push back against the pressure to use social media.

Reliable age verification is feasible. For instance, as the policy analyst Chris Griswold has proposed, the Social Security Administration (which knows exactly how old you are) “could offer a service through which an American could type his Social Security number into a secure federal website and receive a temporary, anonymized code via email or text,” like the dual authentication methods commonly used by banks and retailers. With that code, the platforms could confirm your age without obtaining any other personal information about you.

Some teens would find ways to cheat, and the age requirement would be porous at the margins. But the draw of the platforms is a function of network effects — everyone wants to be on because everyone else is on. The age requirement only has to be passably effective to be transformative — as the age requirement takes hold, it would also be less true that everyone else is on.

Real age verification would also make it possible to more effectively restrict access to online pornography — a vast, dehumanizing scourge that our society has inexplicably decided to pretend it can do nothing about. Here, too, concerns about free speech, whatever their merits, surely don’t apply to children.

It may seem strange to get at the challenge of children’s use of social media through online privacy protections, but that path actually offers some distinct advantages. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act already exists as a legal mechanism. Its framework also lets parents opt in for their kids if they choose. It can be a laborious process, but parents who feel strongly that their kids should be on social media could allow it.

This approach would also get at a core problem with the social media platforms. Their business model — in which users’ personal information and attention are the essence of the product that the companies sell to advertisers — is key to why the platforms are designed in ways that encourage addiction, aggression, bullying, conspiracies and other antisocial behaviors. If the companies want to create a version of social media geared to children, they will need to design platforms that don’t monetize user data and engagement in that way — and so don’t involve those incentives — and then let parents see what they think.

Empowering parents is really the key to this approach. It was a mistake to let kids and teens onto the platforms in the first place. But we are not powerless to correct that mistake.

Yuval Levin, a contributing Opinion writer, is the editor of National Affairs and the director of social, cultural and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute. He is the author of “A Time to Build: From Family and Community to Congress and the Campus, How Recommitting to Our Institutions Can Revive the American Dream.”

The Times is committed to publishing a diversity of letters to the editor. We’d like to hear what you think about this or any of our articles. Here are some tips. And here’s our email:

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10 Year Old Actor Sebastian Singh Makes His Toronto International Film Festival Debut in Clement Virgo Film “BROTHER”



10 Year Old Actor Sebastian Singh Makes His Toronto International Film Festival Debut in Clement Virgo Film

Toronto, ON – Sebastian Singh will appear in his first feature film at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. (TIFF) The ten-year-old actor will play the younger version of the Lamar Johnson’s lead character Michael in Clement Virgo’s “Brother.”   “Brother” makes its world premiere at TIFF in September. The film is the story of Francis and Michael, sons of Caribbean immigrants maturing into young men amidst Toronto’s pulsing 1990’s hip-hop scene and the mystery that unfolds setting off a series of events which changes the course of the brothers’ lives forever.  Sebastian is excited and honoured to be a part of this film and to attend TIFF.

Sebastian Singh is a talented ten-year-old with a bright future ahead of him and an already established work ethic.
The multi-talented young actor has established himself as a new up and coming talent to watch for in the Film and TV industry in Canada. Sebastian was a part of the award-winning PSA Sick kids Mom vs Hard days, has appeared in the popular television series, Suits, Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale and Left for Dead: The Ashley Reeves Story, for Lifetime.  Sebastian is also an award-winning filmmaker for the short film H.E.N.R.I, which he co-wrote, produced, and played the lead with his twin sister Ava and father, Ryan Singh.
Everyone agrees, Sebastian Singh’s star is on the rise and can’t wait for what’s next.
**Sebastian is represented by Annie Oakes of Glickman
Alexander Talent Management
Media Inquiries:


Sasha Stoltz Publicity: 

Sasha Stoltz | | 416.579.4804 

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Hardliners In Iran Slam Media At Home And Abroad For Criticism – ایران اینترنشنال



IRGC media accuse ‘reformist’ media in Iran of being in “unison” with their foreign-based peers, criticizing the government for forced hijab and nuclear policy.

In a commentary Tuesday, the IRGC-linked Fars news agency attacked reformist media for printing articles and commentaries that it said were “in unison with hostile media”.

Iranian officials and hardliners refer to Persian language media based outside Iran such as the BBC’s Persian channel, Iran International TV, Voice of America (VOA), and Manoto TV as ‘hostile media’.

Fars specified criticism of the government’s nuclear policies and crackdown on women for not abiding by hijab rules. Critics say that confronting, harassing and arresting women on the streets is similar to the way the Taliban in Afghanistan act. Fars said that the media’s coverage of this criticism shows their shared goals.

One of the newspapers attacked by Fars in its commentary was Etemad, which in a recent article headlined “Radical Principlists Fear [Nuclear] Agreement” said ultra-hardliners are pressuring the government to forego the revival of the 2015 nuclear deal.

The commentary then cited an analysis by the website of Voice of America which argued that failing to reach an agreement with world powers to restore the deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) within a few weeks would entail military and economic risks for Iran.

Loss of trust in the state media’s impartiality in reporting among many Iranians has led to the ever increasing popularity of foreign-based Persian language television channels at the expense of the state broadcaster (IRIB) despite its huge budget and massive organization employing more than 40,000 people.

A poll conducted by Gamaan polling agency in the Netherlands in 2021 found Iran International TV and Manoto TV, both based in London, as the most popular media outlets in Iran.

Iran has one of the world’s worst media and internet censorships, with tens of thousands of websites blocked since the early 2000s and most social media platforms banned. In the absence of free media and the very high level of censorship, many Iranians turn to social media for political news and information.

Some 60 percent of those contacted by Gamaan said they never watch the news on the Iranian state-run television, the agency said, adding that generalization of the results of the survey to the general public are valid by a 95% coefficient.

Those taking part in the survey were literate Iranians over 19 years of age, representative of 85 percent of the adult population in Iran.

According to the findings of the survey, 33% respondents in the poll said they watch the Iran International TV daily. This makes the network the most popular Persian speaking foreign based news channel in Iran.

Next on the popularity ladder were Manoto TV with 30%, BBC Persian TV with 17%, both London-Based, as well as Jam TV, based in Turkey, with 16.5%, followed by the Iranian state TV at 16 percent, the Washington-based VOA TV also known as PNN with 11 percent popularity.

The country’s only broadcasting organization which operates under the supervision of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s office is now controlled by ultra conservatives. Khamenei also appoints the IRIB’s chief.

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How To Build A Progressive Brand Using Modern Media (Part II) – Forbes



Whether you know what you’re talking about or not, if you’re a guest on TV, everyone will believe you know your stuff. (Psst … you’re less likely to get a guest appearance if you don’t know what you’re talking about!).

Part I of this blog series was all about using different platforms to build your personal brand. Part II here is about leveraging the brand you built online to appear before a larger audience.

Another way to think of this is that using social media (i.e., blogs, podcasts, YouTube, and Facebook/Instagram) serves as a foundation or springboard. That’s not to say that you can’t have an amazing, and lucrative, brand using any one of the platforms listed in Part I, because you can. But depending on what your goals are, you might also want to explore appearances on radio, television, or TEDx stages.

Let’s unpack how this could look for you…

1. TV appearances

Modern TV includes guest appearances on reputable YouTube channels, online networks, and TV talk shows, like Good Morning America and Live with Kelly & Ryan. But guest appearances don’t tend to start with something as large as Good Morning America.

How you use TV will depend a little bit on your brand and what you’re offering. TV is one way – and a good way – to introduce yourself to a lot of people. Plus, you can place the video recording of your segment on your website as a way to show credibility. This is the importance of an “as seen on” website page on your media coverage.

If you’re considering using media as a way to promote your brand, here are five tips to getting on TV.

  • Start with local media. Local media builds credibility and shows that you don’t crack under pressure or spotlight. This would be almost necessary to get accepted into national media outlets.
  • Be newsworthy. Stay true to your brand but find an angle that’s counterintuitive, something that makes someone stop in their tracks and rethink their approaches to life. If you have a successful business, you have an angle. There are reasons people hire (or listen to) you.
  • Pitch like a pro. With TV and radio, it’s not about selling your brand. It’s about entertaining their audience.
  • Be OK waiting. You’re not likely to land your first pitch. Remember: a lack of response isn’t always a “no”— it could simply be a “not right now.” Producers take note of their inbox, even if they are not responsive… Don’t give up. Hire a well-connected PR firm to help.
  • Shine. When you get that call, give it everything you’ve got…in a calm and professional way, of course.

Competition for the spotlight is fierce. You need to stand out from the crowd here more than ever. Here are expert tips to be heard over the noise.

  • Get media training. It’s a lot harder than it looks! You need to learn how to relax on camera to convey your key message. As a career coach, I’m constantly training clients to speak clearly and on message during all public interviews.
  • Be compelling and entertaining. You don’t need to be funny, but you need to have a sense of humor.
  • Prove you’re not a “nutjob.” No one wants to work for someone who’s overzealous. Be enthusiastic, just not too enthusiastic.
  • Include only one “ah ha.” Your message needs to be summarized in one sentence. Think of it like this: When the host wraps up their time with you, what is the one thing you will want to make sure you say?

2. Radio

The value with radio is that it’s audio based. And, in traffic, you have a captivated audience. But an oft overlooked radio-like media is podcasts – not as a host, but as a guest. Podcasts have a huge audience: 32% of Americans listen to podcasts monthly, 75% want to learn something, and 52% of subscribers listen to the entire episode. That’s a captive audience.

To be successful using radio you need to find the right audience for your content. That means listening to different radio broadcasts to see where your message will be well-received. Radio needs to be newsworthy. It’s a great place to talk about your new book or breakthroughs in your industry. Like TV, starting local is the way to go.

On the flip side, if you want to be a podcast guest, your reach is much greater. Here are three tips to get the perfect podcast opp:

  • Research. Identify and listen to several podcasts to determine a good fit for your message. Select about five podcasts that target your audience. Write down the details of each, e.g., who hosts the podcast and how to reach them. Listen to at least 2 to 3 episodes of each podcast so you get a feel for their audience.
  • Pitch. After you’ve listened to several episodes, craft a pitch. Your podcast host wants to know how your appearance will benefit their audience and show… Give them bullet points that are specific, have points that are unexpected, show your value.
  • Follow-up. Always follow up. Your first follow-up should be within 1-2 days, then 7, then 14 days. After that, keep listening. When you hear a podcast about a related topic or something that ties in nicely with your topic, send another follow-up: “Hey, just caught your episode on sleep apnea. As you might remember, I work with a technique to induce sound sleep – I’ve included more info below, but here are the bullet points….”

When you’re using radio or podcast guest appearances, your focus can be slightly different than TV. With TV, you want just one defining “ah ha.” With radio, and especially podcasts, listeners can relisten to episodes online. Often podcast hosts will include links to your personal website or social platforms (whatever is agreed on). So, you can leave the listeners with an “ah ha” moment that requires investigation or a call-to-action.

3. TEDx

TED– which stands for technology, entertainment, design– has a mission to discover “ideas worth spreading.” It was originally a once-a-year conference held in Vancouver. TEDx are grassroot events held locally under the same premise: spreading great ideas. TEDx talks are shared for free online. More than 3000 TEDx events are held annually. There is an opportunity available to be invited to give a TEDx talk.

TED by the numbers: In 2006, TED Talks posted six shows online. Six years later, TED Talks online surpassed one billion views. It is estimated that TED talks receive one million views a day.

There are two TEDs – TED and TEDx. TED is an annual conference by invitation or nomination only. Other opportunities on TED include the Audacious Project, TED Fellow, and TED-Ed. TEDx are local events and offer your best chances at being heard. Here’s how:

  • Study TEDx talks in your local region so you know what makes a great TEDx talk.

  • Get to know the TEDx community and organizers.
  • Build a portfolio of public speaking events with shareable links.
  • Craft your talk – and your pitch – around energy, creativity, and bold ideas.
  • Focus on just one idea or angle.

Just as with TV and radio, you’ll need to stand out from the crowd. So do your homework. Your idea doesn’t have to be earth shattering, but it needs to present a different way of looking at the problem. Just like TV, you need one big “ah ha.” But someone different from TV, you want your audience to learn, be inspired, and think. Brené Brown is an excellent example. She talks about vulnerability. Audiences that listen to her leave with as many questions as they do answers. They leave with an exploratory mind. That’s what will set you apart when competing for TEDx.

4. Have a shining LinkedIn profile.

You’ve done the work, emailed the pitches, and now you’re waiting to hear back. Know that in this lag of time, professionals and bookers will be looking at your LinkedIn profile. So make it shine! All professional brands need a LinkedIn page. Some, of course, more than others. LinkedIn is where you network and build relationships so when it comes time for the Big Ask, you have the connections to back you up. Before launching your pursuit to be the star of the show, make your LinkedIn profile pop.

Remember, your brand reflects your commitment to who you are as a professional. It’s not a step you can skip in today’s workplace, whether you’re an entrepreneur, or in corporate. It’s not “too late” to build your brand – if you take to the task in a strategic and committed way. It can be easy to get discouraged when your numbers (followers) are stagnant, or you’re being rejected for guest appearances. That’s when you must dig deeper. Find where you can pivot while staying true to who you are and what you stand for. if you have a “big point,” you’ll get noticed.

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