IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

N.J. Commission to Study Adolescent Social Media, Phone Use

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy will name a 19-member panel of education leaders, parents, students and others to study the effects of social media and make recommendations for the 2024-2025 academic year.

A smartphone with social media apps on the screen lying on top of a computer keyboard.
New Jersey could become the next state to restrict student social media and smartphone use in schools under legislation recently signed by Gov. Phil Murphy.

The law, noted in a news release last month, ordered a commission to study the effects of adolescent social media use both inside and outside of the classroom. The 19-member commission will be appointed before the end of this month. It will consist of the state commissioner of education, four members of the public appointed by the New Jersey Legislature, and 14 others appointed by Gov. Murphy — two public school students, two parents of children enrolled in public schools, a school nurse, a specialist on social media data collection, and other experts representing the education, psychology and child advocacy fields.

According to the news release, the study will:

  • Measure social media and device use inside and outside of schools by age group.
  • Gauge whether social media use contributes to mental health problems such as anxiety or depression, as well as disruptive behaviors such as bullying and harassment.
  • Identify whether social media use contributes to physical health issues such as high blood pressure, changes in weight, or loss of sleep in adolescents.
  • Compare social media use with academic performance.
The commission is expected to complete its research by late summer of 2024 and present its findings to Gov. Murphy and the Legislature, according to Bill S715. The commission will also propose new social media standards and strategies to “mitigate adverse effects of social media usage on student health and academic performance,” according to the news release.

Lawmakers will consider the recommendations and discuss additional actions after reviewing the report.

According to the bill, the commission will meet at least once a quarter. The New Jersey Department of Education will provide administrative and clerical services as needed to help commission members complete the research and write the report.

New Jersey public officials expressed deep concern over the use of social media by students.

“The advent of social media has really changed life as we know it — in some ways bringing the world closer together, but in others, creating a disconnect between authentic relationships and virtual ones,” New Jersey Department of Children and Families Commissioner Christine Norbut Beyer said in a public statement. “For younger users especially, overuse of social media can impact their body image, emotional health and peer relationships, and we have to be mindful of how online bullying can be compounded through social media. By bringing together experts to study this phenomenon, we can inform public policy and address a significant contributing factor to the youth mental health crisis within this country.”

New Jersey Sen. Richard Codey, who sponsored the legislation, said this study is long overdue.

“Over the past 10 years, the evolution of smartphones and social media have become a major component in the lives of adolescents,” he said in a public statement. “Students are now connected 24 hours a day, linked by various social-media platforms, which poses risks to academic performance. This commission will provide valuable information to evaluate the effects of this usage within our education system.”

In Florida, a law restricting social media use in schools went into effect last month. In Utah, a law requiring parental consent for social media users under 18 will take effect in March. That law also sets a curfew for youth social media users, preventing them from accessing the platforms during overnight hours.