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Bipartisan Bill Proposes Banning Kids Under 13 from Social Media

April 27, 2023 | By Kali Girl

On Wednesday, a new bill was introduced by a bipartisan group of US senators who seeks to establish a nationwide minimum age for social media use and require tech companies to obtain parental consent before creating accounts for teenagers, reports CNN.

The proposed legislation reflects a growing trend among policymakers at all levels of government to regulate the way in which Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and other platforms engage with young users.

The bill knows as the Protecting Kids on Social Media Act aims to address concerns voiced by mental health advocates, policymakers, and critics of tech platforms who argue that social media is contributing to a mental health crisis.

If passed, the bill would prohibit social media platforms from allowing children under the age of 13 to create accounts or engage with other users. However, children would still be allowed to view content without logging in, according to the draft text of the legislation.

Technology platforms would be required to secure parental or guardian approval prior to establishing new accounts for users who are under 18 years old.

Companies would be prohibited from utilizing personal information of teenagers to customize content or advertising for them. However, they could still offer teens restricted targeted recommendations by relying on other contextual clues.

Hawaii Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz, who designed the federal bill, emphasized the urgent need for Congress to prioritize the protection of children from the negative impacts of social media.

“Social media companies have stumbled onto a stubborn, devastating fact,” Schatz said. “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.” 

The proposed bill could have a profound impact as it aims to establish a government-operated program for age verification, which would authenticate the age or parental status of users through identification submitted to either a third-party verifier or the government’s own system.

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