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From greenwashing to screenwashing?

How the tech industry plays around with children's future

Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Ina Maria Koning
,
Regina J.J.M. van den Eijnden
, and
Helen G.M. Vossen

Abstract

In this viewpoint, we introduce the term ‘screenwashing’, which describes the phenomenon whereby social media platforms, such as TikTok and Instagram, pretend to be more socially responsible than they actually are. That is, social media platforms pretend to be thoughtful about children's health and the prevention of problematic social media use, but this often turns out to be nothing more than “a lick of paint”. We describe how features like the one-hour notification on TikTok and Instagram are considered screenwashing and why we believe so. Screenwashing, an unethical practice, has the potential to mislead parents and young users. Consequently, we advocate for increased government intervention to protect our youth from the potential hazards associated with problematic social media use.

Open access