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Governor Huckabee Sanders Against Big Tech

Governor takes action based on Jonathan Haidt's research
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Sarah Huckabee Sanders, governor of Arkansas, sent a copy of social psychologist Jonathan Haidt’s new book The Anxious Generation to every single fellow state governor in the country, asking them in a letter to rescue American children from the cesspool of social media and screen addiction.

It’s arguably the most forthright endorsement of the book from a policymaker, and is a strong sign that political figures are starting to realize the negative effects of social media on young people. Laws that seek to ban social media use, however, have run into significant obstacles, with an appeal to free speech as the justification for Big Tech to keep plowing ahead with their manipulative business models. Michael Toscano writes,

These rulings, I submit to you, are absurd — and ultimately unsustainable. They display a radical libertarian jurisprudence that protects massive corporations in their efforts to exploit American children. My reading of the Constitution is different. It was drafted to ensure the rights of the weak against the works of the powerful. There is a strong chance, given the scale of the crisis before us, that the Supreme Court will see it the same way. 

But to get that ultimate decision, we have to take risks like Governor Sanders and fight for these laws all the way up to the highest court in the land. In that spirit, and in the spirit of her letter, it would be encouraging to see her and her state try again to pass a re-tooled Social Media Safety Act (or perhaps something even stronger, like a clean ban of users under the age of 16, as Haidt suggests). Such laws could very well be the difference between a country that puts children before Big Tech corporations and a country that leverages the Constitution to prey on the weak. 

Sarah Huckabee Sanders Against Smartphones | Institute for Family Studies (ifstudies.org)

For Toscano, the Constitution shouldn’t protect Big Tech under the guise of an appeal to the first amendment. The Constitution was intended to guard the rights of the vulnerable instead of the selfish interests of the powerful. In any case, law or no law, parents can still take up their calling to protect and lead and partner with their kids to limit screentime until they’re old enough to handle it.


Peter Biles

Writer and Editor, Center for Science & Culture
Peter Biles graduated from Wheaton College in Illinois and went on to receive a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He is a prolific fiction writer and has written stories and essays for a variety of publications. He was born and raised in Ada, Oklahoma and is a contributing writer and editor for Mind Matters.

Governor Huckabee Sanders Against Big Tech