A group of bipartisan Senators introduced legislation on Wednesday to protect children from the harmful effects of social media, NBC News reported.
The bill, “Protecting Kids on Social Media Act,” imposes a minimum age of 13 to use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, while those 13 to 17 would also require parental consent.
The legislation would also prohibit social media platforms from using algorithms to recommend content to any user under the age of 18. The companies would also be required to employ age verification systems under the measure.
Authority to enforce the provisions outlined in the bill will be given to the Federal Trade Commission and state attorneys general.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK), one of the lead sponsors of the bill, argued that social media companies are exposing children to “dangerous content and disturbed people,” leaving parents “helpless” while their children suffer, “sometimes leading to devastating tragedies.”
Democrat Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii, another lead sponsor, described the legislation as a “commonsense and bipartisan approach” to put an end to the suffering caused by teenagers using social media.
The two other lead sponsors of the bill are Democrat Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Republican Senator Katie Britt of Alabama.
Currently, several of the most popular social media apps already have a minimum age of 13 for users to create accounts, including Facebook and Instagram. TikTok requires those posting content to be at least 13. But it also offers “curated, view-only” content for those under 13.
The senators noted that the CDC’s recent survey on Youth Risk Behavior found that 57 percent of high school girls and 29 percent of high school boys described persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2021. Additionally, 22 percent of all high schoolers reported seriously considering attempting suicide.
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.