Our Chicago: TikTok's CEO to testify before Congress and how social media impacts kids' wellbeing

ByKay Cesinger WLS logo
Sunday, February 5, 2023
Our Chicago Part 1: TikTok testimony and how social media impacts kids
More than two dozen states have now banned TikTok on government owned devices. It's also now illegal for the app to be on any federal phone.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- More than two dozen states have now banned TikTok on government owned devices. It's also now illegal for the app to be on any federal phone.

All of this over concerns about data privacy, national security and there are on-going studies about the app's impact on the mental well-being of young people.

It was announced recently that TikTok's CEO will testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee in March.

Illinois U.S. Rep. Jan Schakowsky sits on that committee, and said she's "really looking forward to quizzing the CEO and getting more information."

"But, I certainly have my concerns," Schakowsky said. "There's no question that TikTok, which is used mostly by young people, which adds to the concern is doing the kind of surveillance and looking into the private information. Too much information is collected by these platforms and social media companies. But, we worry about TikTok because of the relationship with the Chinese government."

And, what does Schakowsky want to hear from the CEO?

"We want to hear what he has to say about evidence that has emerged that is saying that they are doing the, gathering the kind of information, very private information and then turning it over to the Communist Party in China," Schakowsky said.

WATCH: Our Chicago Part 2

Here's how social media platforms like TikTok can impact kids' mental health.

Most social media sites, including TikTok, allow children to join at age 13.

But, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recently said that's simply too early.

"Kids are developing their identify, their sense of self. It's a time where it's really important for us to be thoughtful about what's going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationships. And, the skewed and often distorted environment of social media often does a disservice to many of those children," Murthy said.

His new recommendation is adding to what is already a battle for many parents and their children.

Dr. Colleen Cicchetti is a child psychologist and the executive director of the Center for Childhood Resilience at Lurie Children's Hospital. She pointed to a recent study looking at kids and social media.

"What it showed is that there are actual brain changes in kids who spend a lot of time checking their social media. And, so, what we know is that the brain is literally in the biggest growth phase, that it's in in it's lifetime after infancy in teenage years. So, what we're doing with our brains, and how we're programming the pathways, and the neural pathways those changes are absolutely critical at this time. And, so, when you're engaging in a certain activity, those are the pathways that are going to grow. Those are the certain patterns that we're laying down for the future," Cicchetti said.