BILL: Should Kids Be Banned From Social Media? - The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act
Do you support restrictions on social media use for kids under 18?
The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act
- The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Sens. Brian Schatz (D-HI), Tom Cotton (R-AR), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and Katie Britt (R-AL).
- The sponsoring senators argue that the existing federal children's privacy law, COPPA, is too difficult to enforce.
- The bipartisan bill would ban children under 13 from using popular social media sites and apps like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and more, effectively creating a national minimum age.
- Children would still be able to view content on the sites without logging in but would not be able to create accounts or interact with other users.
- Teens under 18 would need parental consent to utilize social media sites.
- The legislation would put in place an age verification scheme to make it harder for kids to bypass the restrictions.
What's in the bill?
Social media ban for children under 13
- The senators who have introduced the bill point to social media's role in the mental health crisis, having taken cues from legislation recently introduced in Arkansas and Utah.
Age verification system
- The bill seeks to establish a government-run age verification program that can verify children's ages and their parents' identities via third-party verification sites.
- The federal age verification program would be administered by the Department of Commerce and would, as of now, be voluntary.
- Tech companies could also create an in-house age verification system under the bill.
Parental permission required for teens 13-18
- The bill would require tech companies to get parents' explicit consent before creating accounts for teens under the age of 18.
- Parents would be allowed to monitor their teens' accounts.
Restrictions on targeted ads and content
- The tech companies would not be allowed to use the teens' personal information to target them with content or advertising. They would be able to provide limited recommendations, however, the specifics have not been unveiled yet in the draft copy of the bill.
Addresses the teen mental health crisis
- A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that 42% of high school students surveyed experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness over the last year, and experts believe this can be attributed to social media.
- Sen. Britt said:
"As adults, how many of you have struggled with what someone has posted on social media, or what someone has said or what someone has done?"
What supporters are saying
- Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI), one of the sponsors of the federal bill, said Congress needs to act:
"Social media companies have stumbled onto a stubborn, devastating fact. The way to get kids to linger on the platforms and to maximize profit is to upset them — to make them outraged, to make them agitated, to make them scared, to make them vulnerable, to make them feel helpless, anxious [and] despondent."
- In response to criticism of the age verification scheme, Sen. Cotton said:
"If a child is, say, too young to sign a contract or too young to open a bank account in the real world, they're too young to sign terms of service agreements and use social media in the digital world."
"The tech industry is going to come at this bill, and every other kids' online safety bill, with everything it's got. But the burden of proof is on those who want to protect the status quo, because the status quo is making a whole generation of users mentally ill."
"This is a reality that we don't have to accept. The alarm bells about social media's devastating impact on kids have been sounding for a long time, and yet time and time again, these companies have proven they care more about profit than preventing the well-documented harm they cause. None of this is out of Congress's control."
What opponents are saying
- Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), sponsoring a similar bill named the Kids' Online Safety Act, is concerned about the age verification element:
"I have some concerns about an age identification system that would create a national database with personal information about kids in the hands of Big Tech, potentially leading to misuse or exploitation. I have other concerns about a bill that would put accountability on parents rather than on Big Tech, as our legislation does."
- Zamaan Qureshi, co-chair of the coalition Design It For Us, said the focus should be on redesigning social media platforms:
"We believe that any legislation addressing harm on social media should put the onus on companies to make their platforms safer, instead of preventing kids and teens from being on platforms at all."
- The legislation has raised debates about the role of parents versus the government in deciding what their children do online. It has introduced a broader discussion about the privacy and constitutional rights of young Americans.
- Critics worry that the need for parental approval could impact vulnerable teen populations like LGBTQ+ teens.
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation said of Utah's ban:
"Requiring that all users in Utah tie their accounts to their age, and ultimately, their identity, will lead to fewer people expressing themselves, or seeking information online. Those in Utah would likely be age-gated offline."
Do you support restrictions on social media use for kids under 18?
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The young people I spoke with wanted to know why big government wants to police their friendships on social media but doesn't care if they get murdered in their classrooms. Fair question.
I support parental approval requirements, but ultimately this should be up to the parents.
Why is the government continually trying to tell parents what to do in raising children?
I'm torn on not allowing kids to utilize social media. I truly believe that social media use by youth exacerbates any mental health issues that child may suffer. The reach for perfection and constant excitement is a recipe for anxiety and depression. Most social media outlets do not allow anyone under 13 to have an account. Yet, I know many kids much younger than 13 years old with an account.
As a former principal of an elementary school, I cannot even give you a number of the times I had to investigate some type of threat or bullying behavior that happened outside of the school day, but affected the school environment! These incidents were numerous. Often parents were either unaware their child had an account or that the site had age restrictions.
I do not see how laws will change this, as there becomes an enforcement issue.
Perhaps, we put time & energy into a PR campaign targeting PARENTS? Or, make social media sites responsible for age verification with stiff financial penalties for allowing youth on their platforms? Or, create programs that are developmentally appropriate, vigorously monitored, and safe for teenagers?
Technology is moving & adapting faster than humans. Ethically & morally, we need to protect our kids. Im just not sure we can legislate non-use without being able to effectively implement this.
Need a "Maybe" fior this one. Decision should be the parents but every device & app should have adequate parental controls to enforce and provide surveillance on use to parents.
Who is going to enforce this idea, the login police?
Again, with technology getting away from everyone who didn't think it through first. This seems to be a theme...
CNN circus act of smoke, mirrors, lies and stupidity!
In 1993 Congress tried to regulate violent video games and pretty much got no where other than having meetings but no action. It took states to act on it but some states that did act were later taken to court for violating the 1st Amendment.
I agree that something needs to be done but it's 30 years too late. Best analogy to try and keep young kids from getting on the internet is like putting a condom on after having sex, totally useless. Kinda like our government, useless
The decision to keep kids off the internet should belong to the parents but Congress wants to get involved in the decision of what is age appropriate. Speaking of age appropriate at what age should a kid decide what gender or if gender reassignments need to be.
Is Congress again trying to legislate morality or is the general voter population just willing to hand over all control of decisions and parenting.
30 years too late. What we need is a less intrusive, much smaller government and much, much less of a Socialistic government.
Isn't this supposed to be called Being A Parent?
I support this as long as it still allows healthy access for our kids. They should be able to interact with each other in positive uplifting
No universal banning of kids. However kids signing a platform's agreement shall NOT be binding. Social medias can design age appropriate into their algorithms.
I urge you to vote NO. I echo the digital rights advocates at Electronic Frontier Foundation: "Requiring that... users... tie their accounts to their age, and ultimately, their identity, will lead to fewer people expressing themselves, or seeking information online."
What idiot is supporting banning teenagers from social media?
kids need to be able to express themselves. If god forbid they aren't safe at home they need to be able to reach out.
this isn't about keeping them safe it's about controlling what they see and talk about so they can't make informed decisions when they are old enough to vote. It's so they can't acess information about protests they would be interested in joining.
it's all about controlling and infatallizing older teens.
Kids don't need to be banned.
Children's brains are being corrupted and diluted by social media, which is mostly not real life. Children need to be protected, including from social media, and they should not be allowed on social media until age 18.
As a young adult I grew up with technology without many restrictions. My parents had never discussed internet safety with me because it was fairly new to them as well as they did not know the dangers. There were many predators. You tube was full of them and Omegle too, where you can talk to strangers. Many YouTubers went on this site for videos. I thought what harm could it be? Men three decades older than I, older women as well, preyed on me even after I had told them my age. Now as an adult I wish my parents never let me use their laptops. Technology can be amazing for school, but the web and media has poisoned many children.
Psychological research has shown that social media can cause diffiucltes for both adults and children. Children are typically unable to decern limits in this area and can be easily influenced.
The proposed bill sounds reasonable.
Fucker Carlson and Donald Trump should be banned from social media because they're both filthy liars and Donald Trump is a molester. These are actual facts substantiated by the court of law.
If every parent would purchase their child a flip phone...texts and phone calls only until they could afford their own cell phone the problem would solve itself. Yes they'd have access to computers, iPads etc but nonstop, constant, in hand use would stop. Any middle and high school teacher will tell you that kids are always on their phones, in class, at lunch, after school and before class which adversely affects their lives.
Not good for kids below 18yrs to use social media due to distraction and other health hazards!
I think parents need to take the lead on this not the govt
I do support restrictions on social media for kids under 18. I also support that kids of certain ages shouldn't be allowed to see x rated films. Too many social media sites are very suggestive to young minds and too any parents allow way to much unrestricted access. I think the development of kids today has been hampered by too much computer and phone use. Pick up a book or a newspaper, write a story or in a journal -in cursive. Kids don't know how to write either. They need to use their whole brain, left and right sides to meet their potential.