A republican lawmaker from Texas has introduced a bill that aims to keep under 18s off social media. Last week, State Rep. Jared Patterson’s filed HB 896, that if passed, will prohibit minors to create accounts on apps, and those over 18 would need two photos as proof of age to gain access.
“A social media platform shall verify the age of the account holder by requiring the account holder to provide a copy of the account holder’s driver’s license along with a second photo showing both the account holder and the driver’s license in a manner that allows the social media company to verify the identity of the account holder,” the bill stipulates.
Currently most of the social media platforms require users to be at least 13 to join, however there is no age verification process. Under HB 896, the parents will have the right to request the removal of their child’s account. “Social media is the pre-1964 cigarette. Once thought to be perfectly safe for users, social media access to minors has led to remarkable rises in self-harm, suicide, and mental health issues,” said Patterson in a statement. “The Texas legislature must act this session to protect children because, thus far, the social media platforms have failed to do so. HB 896 is a solution to this crisis.”
The next legislative session starts on Jan. 10, 2023, and runs for 140 days through May 29, 2023, if passed the bill will go into effect in September. Texas Public Policy Foundation’s CEO praised the bill saying: “the harms social media poses to minors are demonstrable not just in the internal research from the very social media companies that create these addictive products, but in the skyrocketing depression, anxiety, and even suicide rates we are seeing afflict children.”
“We are tremendously grateful for Rep. Jared Patterson’s leadership on keeping this precious population safe, and TPPF is fully supportive of prohibiting social media access to minors to prevent the perpetual harms of social media from devastating the next generation of Texans,” he added.
According to the Pew Research Center, YouTube is the most popular app among teens being used by 95% of them, followed by TikTok, Instagram and SnapChat.