As of today, a team of four U.S. senators, two Republicans, and two Democrats, have introduced new legislation that prohibits all children under the age of 13 from accessing social media. Moreover, children under 18 would need their guardian’s permission to create an account.
This comes in the wake of a national crisis regarding social media’s effects on children. The four senators claim that they’ve seen more and more parents worried about the way social media is harming their kids.
Senator Cristopher Murphy, a Democrat, says: “I just feel like we’ve reached this point where doing nothing is not an option. And increasingly, when members of Congress go home, this is one of the first or second issues that they’re hearing about from their constituents.”
The new legislation would also prevent social media companies from using their algorithms to recommend any type of content to users under 18. It also imposes an obligation on social media companies to verify the age of their users using the latest technology available.
Youth Crisis as a Key Factor in the Legislation
The four senators agree that this bipartisan legislation has garnered the support of people from both political parties like never before.
They claim that the post-pandemic crisis among the youth has been a determining factor in drafting the legislation.
Senator Tom Cotton says that “This is an issue that unites parents all across the country, no matter what their political views on other matters might be.”
Still, the senators also worry that the legislation will have a tough time being accepted by the Senate because the social media industry is a giant industry. The U.S. Senate was always at odds with how to regulate social media platforms, so this wouldn’t be a first.
There have been past legislations that attempted to impose privacy and safety regulations on social media companies but there were massive disagreements about overregulation and civil liberties.
A Force for Good or Over-Restrictive Legislation?
Others were not so keen on agreeing with this legislation. Carl Szabo of NetChoice, an advocacy group of which Amazon, Google, Meta, and TikTok are members, said: “Being a parent in the twenty-first century is hard, but inserting the government between parents and their teens is the wrong approach.“.
CEO Adam Kovacevich, the founder and CEO of the Chamber of Progress, claimed that “We should listen to teens, who are saying that social media is mostly playing a positive role in their lives.”
Blumenthal was also critical of the bill, claiming that it had valid concerns about the legislation putting a great burden on parents and leading social media companies to collect even more data from the parents.
Yet, Senator Brian Schatz, one of the four who introduced the bill, says that the legislation is “elegant in its simplicity. We simply say kids 12 and under shouldn’t be on a social media platform at all. That’s a policy call. That’s within the purview of the Congress. And I think most people agree with us.”
Another senator says that their legislation wouldn’t lead to social media companies collecting even more data from children because they’re already doing that.
Moreover, the ban on social media for children under 13 would remove a significant portion of users’ data from the hands of social media companies.
It remains to be seen whether the legislation will pass or if it will be just another bill muddled in bipartisan disagreements.
- New York Post – Ban Social Media for Kids? Fed-up Parents in Senate Say Yes