Congress aims to regulate social media for youth amid America’s mental health crisis

The bill would set a minimum age of 13 for social media apps and require parental permission for teens up to age 17.
Published: Apr. 26, 2023 at 7:37 AM HST|Updated: Apr. 26, 2023 at 9:08 AM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new bill introduced in Congress on Wednesday would regulate social media use when it comes to adolescents under the age of 18.

The bipartisan bill — called the “Protecting Kids on Social Media Act” — would set a minimum age of 13 for social media apps and require parental permission for teens up to 17.

It would also ban social media companies from using algorithms to feed content to kids under 18.

U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) teamed up with Republican Sen. Tom Cotton from Arkansas to propose the bill.

Typically, they’re on opposite ends of the political spectrum. But they point to recent data highlighting the link between social media and poor mental health.

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 57% of high school girls and 29% of high school boys felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021.

The study also found that 22% of all high school students reported they has seriously considered attempting suicide in 2020.

Other studies revealed between 2019 to 2021, overall screen use among teens and tweens — ages 8 to 12 — increased by 17% with tweens using screens for nearly six hours per day and teens using screens for nearly nine hours a day.

“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,” said Schatz. “This needs to stop.”

“The alarm bells about social media’s devastating impact on kids have been sounding for a long time,” said Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn). “And yet time and time again, these companies have proven they care more about profit than preventing the well-documented harm they cause.”

Sen. Katie Britt said the bill is a “bold, critical step” to protect youth, secure their future while also empowering parents.

To read more about the bill, click here.