The Murphy Administration has just signed legislation establishing a commission to study the effects of social media on school aged adolescents.
The 19-member commission will be tasked with investigating and studying the impact social media usage may have on young people, both in and out of school. The commission comes after Gov. Phil Murphy recently released a national playbook to address the mental health needs for youths.
Murphy said the commission is needed it to determine the full scope of its impact social media has on students.
Effect of Social Media
“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,” said Murphy in a press statement.
New Jersey Education Association President Sean Spiller added that “our educators know the negative impact of social media on our students and now, more than ever, the ways in which it contributes to the mental health crisis our students are facing. We look forward to being part of the commission and to put forward proposals that will better protect our youth.”
Goals of Commission
Dubbed the “Effects of Social Media Usage on Adolescents,” the bill established a commission will work to discover what effects social media usage will have on adolescents, as determined by:
- the extent that social media usage in both in and out of a school setting, including the amount of time students within various age groups spend each day on different mobile devices, such as a smart phone or computer tablet;
- the physical and mental effect social media usage may have on students, including incidents of depression, anxiety, harassment, intimidation/bullying, or other disruptive behaviors;
- the effect that social media usage may have on a student’s academic performance; and
- along with the physical health effects associated with social media usage, including incidents of sleep deprivation, weight fluctuation, or high blood pressure.
“By studying the impact that social media usage is having on kids today, we can determine ways to limit their exposure to negative information and interactions online,” said State Sen. Ed Durr (R-3), a sponsor of the bill. “This commission will help determine how we can improve student’s mental and emotional health as well as their academic performance.”
Evaluating Social Media Usage
The commission will be made up of 19 people, including the state’s education commissioner, four members picked by legislative leaders, and 14 members appointed by the governor. The governor’s representatives will include 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.
Acting Commissioner of Education Dr. Angelica Allen-McMillan said the commission will layout 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,” said Allen-McMillan. “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.”
A final written report will be issued by the 19-member commission that will make recommendations, suggesting the best course of action in mitigating the adverse effects of social media usage on student health and academic performance, along with other recommendations if needed, to help improve student health and academic performance in connection with social media usage.
State Sen. Richard Codey (D-27) said the evolution of smartphones and social media has become a major component in the lives of adolescents over the last 10 years without any real knowledge of its effects.
“Students are now connected twenty-four hours a day; linked by various social media platforms, which poses risks to academic performance,” said Codey. “This commission will provide valuable information to evaluate the effects of this usage within our education system.”