Today, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) introduced the Social Media Child Protection Act, which would make it unlawful for social media platforms to provide access to children under the age of 16. The rates of teen and adolescent depression, anxiety, and suicide have risen at unprecedented levels since the emergence of social media.
“Our nation’s young people are facing an unprecedented mental health crisis,” said Rep. Stewart. “More than 40 percent of teenagers say that they struggle with feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and more than half of parents express concern over their children’s mental well-being. There has never been a generation this depressed, anxious, and suicidal – it’s our responsibility to protect them from the root cause: social media.
“To all those who say this would be an overstep by our government, I understand your concern. And I share your ideological belief that more government usually makes life worse, not better. But we have countless protections for our children in the physical world – we require car seats and seat belts; we have fences around pools; we have a minimum drinking age of 21; and we have a minimum driving age of 16. The damage to Generation Z from social media is undeniable – so why are there no protections in the digital world? It’s well past time that we take bold, comprehensive action for the sake of our kids.
“President Biden recently wrote that ‘…young people are struggling with bullying, violence, trauma and mental health. We must hold social-media companies accountable for the experiment they are running on our children for profit.’ And the Surgeon General recently stated that adolescents shouldn’t be given access to social media until they’re at least 16 years old. This legislation is a real opportunity for bipartisanship in a divided Congress. Let’s get to work and give our nation’s young people the protections they so desperately need.”
The Social Media Child Protection Act makes it unlawful for social media platforms to provide access to children under the age of 16. It also…
- makes it the social media platform’s responsibility to verify age (using methods like ID verification);
- requires social media platforms to establish and maintain reasonable procedures to protect the confidentiality, security, and integrity of personal information collected from users and perspective users;
- gives the authority to the State to bring a civil action on behalf of its residents;
- gives parents a private right of action on behalf of their children;
- directs the FTC to prevent any social media platform from violating these regulations including implementing fines for violations.