Several Republican and Democratic senators introduced a bill Wednesday to limit the access of younger people to social networks. The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act will prohibit children under the age of 13 from having a profile on networks such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. In addition to this, it will require parental consent for young people between the ages of 13 and 17 before they can open an account on these platforms:
The ban, although the highlight of the project, will be accompanied by other measures. Thus, the law will also include a veto on social networking companies that will prohibit them from recommending content using algorithms for users under 18 years of age.
Along with this, these companies would be required to employ age verification measures to ensure that no minors enter such platforms in breach of the law. To this end, it was recommended that they set up a pilot project for the government to provide them with an age verification system that these social networks could employ to ensure that all minors accessing theit sites are over 13 years of age.
In addition, the measure gives greater authority to the Federal Trade Commission and state attorney generals to enforce what is written in the bill.
Protecting children from the dangers of social networks, main objective of the measure
The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act will have as its main function the protection of young Americans. This was stated by one of the bill's sponsors, Republican Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas:
Big tech has exposed our kids to dangerous content and disturbed people. Moms and dads have felt helpless while their kids suffer, sometimes leading to devastating tragedies.
Hawaii's Democratic Senator Brian Schatz is another supporter of the rule. He assured, during a press conference, that the legislation will help prevent the increasingly prevalent mental health problems being detected in minors:
The growing evidence is clear: social media is making kids more depressed and wreaking havoc on their mental health. While kids are suffering, social media companies are profiting. This needs to stop. Our bill will help us stop the growing social media health crisis among kids by setting a minimum age and preventing companies from using algorithms to automatically feed them addictive content based on their personal information.
"It a reality that we don't have to accept"
The bill's primary sponsors also include Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Katie Britt (R-AL). Both are parents and said they frequently talk about social networks and their dangers. In Murphy's case, the legislator assured that he sees "firsthand the damage that social media companies are doing to our society" and that it is something that should not be allowed:
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. In particular, these algorithms are sending many down dangerous online rabbit holes, with little chance for parents to know what their kids are seeing online. None of this is out of Congress’s control, and this bipartisan legislation would take important steps to protect kids and hold social media companies accountable.
Britt confirmed everything Senator Murphy said. According to her, as she is a "mom with a mission" and assured that social networks are not only a problem for her and her family, but for everyone else:
As a mom, nothing is more important to me than preserving the next generation’s opportunity to live the American Dream. Unfortunately, that Dream is turning into a nightmare for families across our country. This bill is a bold, critical step to protect our kids, secure their future, and empower parents,