Thursday 16 February 2023

Sen. Josh Hawley Introduces Bill to Ban Social Media for Children Under 16


Republican Sen. Josh Hawley has introduced a bill to ban social media for children under 16.

The bill, called the Making Age-Verification Technology Uniform, Robust, and Effective (MATURE) Act, would require platforms to verify that a user is over 16 before allowing them to create an account.

To do this, users would be required to provide their full legal name, date of birth, and government-issued identification to verify their information.

“Children suffer every day from the effects of social media. At best, Big Tech companies are neglecting our children’s health and monetizing their personal information. At worst, they are complicit in their exploitation and manipulation. It’s time to give parents the weapons they need to strike back,” said Senator Hawley in a statement

“That starts with an age restriction for social media,” the senator continued. “And it’s long past time for well-funded research on the scale of the problem. We must set the precedent that these companies can no longer take advantage of our children.”

The legislation would hold social media companies accountable by creating an audit process and a private right of action.

Hawley has also introduced a bill called the Federal Social Media Research Act, which would commission a report on the harms of social media and fully fund a longitudinal study to track social media’s effects on children over 10 years.

The bill states, “Such study shall aim to assess in particular any relationship between social media use patterns and the following medical conditions: Suicidality, Anxiety, Depression, Eating disorders, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Gender dysphoria.

Earlier this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released The Youth Risk Behavior Survey Data Summary & Trends Report: 2011–2021.

The study found that “approximately 57% of female students surveyed reported persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness, 25% made a suicide plan, and 10% attempted suicide in 2021. In 2011, 13% of boys and 19% of girls said they had seriously considered killing themselves. In 2021, 14% of boys and 30% of girls expressed the same sentiment.”

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