The US bill is the latest effort to protect the mental health of young people.
A new bipartisan proposal introduced in the US Senate seeks to set a national age limit for social media use across the country. The federal bill proposes to ban anyone under the age of 13 from using social media applications like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and others. According to a report by CNN, the Child Safety on Social Media bill also proposes to require tech companies to seek parental consent before creating accounts for teenagers. The bill also seeks to address what experts say is a mental health crisis fueled by social media, the outlet added.
Under the provisions of the US bill, according to the draft text of the law, children 13 and under would be prohibited from creating accounts or interacting with other users, although they would still be able to view content without logging into the account.
Companies will also be prohibited from using teenagers’ personal information to target them with content or advertising. However, some concessions are made, such as limited targeted recommendations to adolescents depending on other contextual indications.
Speaking about the legislation, Hawaii Democratic Senator Brian Schatz, one of the federal bill’s architects, told reporters that Congress urgently needs to protect children from the harms of social media.
Mr Schatz was quoted by CNN.
“Social media companies have stumbled upon a stubborn, devastating fact. The way to get kids on the platform and maximize profits is to upset them – to anger them, to provoke them, to frighten them, to frighten them. Vulnerable, to make them feel helpless, anxious and hopeless,”
Mr Schatz added that the bill was a “common sense and bipartisan approach to help stop the misery” that has resulted from teenagers using social media.
Social media companies like Facebook and Instagram require users to be at least 13 years old before creating an account. TikTok also has a similar policy and “offers a curated, watch-only experience for people under 13 that includes additional safety and privacy protections”.
This US bill is the latest effort to protect the mental health of young people. In 2021, 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 reported feeling consistently sad or depressed.
Other studies have also suggested that social media is associated with an increase in mental health disorders in adolescents and depression in adults.