On June 6th, Governor Chris Sununu signed Executive Order 2023-04, an order directing a statewide response to the impact of social media platforms on New Hampshire’s youth.
“I have met extensively with the Attorney General and we are actively pursuing an investigation into the harmful effect that social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram can have on children’s mental health,” said Governor Chris Sununu. “New Hampshire’s children are the future of our state and our nation, and we are making every effort to ensure necessary changes are made to prevent harm by these platforms. New Hampshire will look at all necessary options to protect our children – including spending more time off screens and outdoors.”
The State began to investigate the numerous harms to children posed by social media platforms in November of 2021, and the Executive Order is based upon the ongoing investigation.
“Extensive social media use has been tied to profound risks of harm in youth. Indeed, there has been an increased focus on the correlation between the development of serious mental health disorders by minors and time spent on social media. My office is actively considering how it can best protect New Hampshire’s youth from the harm these platforms cause and promote,” said Attorney General Formella. “Eliminating the harmful effects of social media on New Hampshire’s youth and holding social media platforms accountable for their actions is a top priority for me.”
Under the Executive Order, the Department of Education and the Department of Health and Human Services are called upon to work collaboratively to create guidelines for a curriculum to be submitted to the State Board of Education to be included in all K-12 health education courses in the state that explains the potential negative impacts of use of social media platforms by children. These guidelines shall be submitted to the Governor within 90 days of the Executive Order having been signed.
As part of the initiative, state agencies will also promote a new GoPlayNH Initiative, encouraging kids and families to spend more time off their screens and outdoors. The initiative will highlight the various recreation opportunities available across the Granite State.
“Teaching our children how to engage with society in a healthy, fulfilling way is a core component to providing a holistic education that prepares the next generation for success in every way,” said Department of Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut. “I am thankful that Governor Sununu is taking action to address the societal impact of social media and look forward to hearing directly from parents and students so that we may work side by side to support the needs of the community.”
“As with any aspect of life, it’s important that parents and kids understand the impacts that social media use can have in order to develop personal strategies that allow for proper harm mitigation,” said DHHS Commissioner Lori Weaver. “This Executive Order makes sure we hear directly from parents and their kids to put the best resources in place for the health and safety of New Hampshire’s youth.”
Additional information on resources and tools for parents, teachers, school administrators, and children to share their concerns and experiences will be released in the coming weeks.