Senators Want Age Requirement Increased For Social Media Use

In late April, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation setting an age limit for children to use social media, NBC News reported.

The “Protecting Kids on Social Media Act” would impose a minimum age of 13 to create an account on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Children aged 13 to 17 would be able to create an account but only with require parental consent.

The proposed measure would also bar social media platforms from recommending content to any user under the age of 18. The companies would also be required to implement age verification systems under the measure.

Under the legislation, the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general would be given the authority to enforce the provisions outlined in the bill.

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), one of the lead sponsors of the bill, said in a press conference that by allowing young children to use their platforms, social media companies are exposing children to “dangerous content and disturbed people,” and parents are “helpless” as their children suffer, “sometimes leading to devastating tragedies.”

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), another lead sponsor, said the legislation is a “commonsense and bipartisan approach” to end the suffering social media causes teenagers.

The bill is also sponsored by Alabama Republican Senator Katie Britt and Democrat Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut.

Several of the most popular social media apps have already set a minimum age of 13 to create accounts, including Facebook and Instagram. TikTok also has a minimum age of 13 for those allowed to post content. However, the video-sharing platform does offer “curated, view-only” content for those under 13.

In recent years, other studies have suggested that there is a link between social media usage and the rise in mental health issues among teens, as well as depression in adults.

In the press conference announcing the bill, the senators cited a recent CDC survey on Youth Risk Behavior that found 57 percent of high school girls and 29 percent of high school boys described persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2021. Another 22 percent of all high schoolers reported seriously considering attempting suicide.