U.S. senators have introduced a bill to ban social media on children, which some saw as a step forward, while others criticized it as a child restriction that would not solve the problem.
The bill, introduced by MPs Tom Cotton, Chris Murphy, Katie Brett and Bryn Schatz, calls for making the minimum age for use of social media platforms 13, with the requirement of age verification and parental consent for those under the age of 18.
U.S. lawmakers said they represent millions of parents who are concerned about these sites, as they directly harm their mental health.
Senator Murphy commented in a tweet on his Twitter account on Saturday, saying, "Social media sites exploit our children with harmful and addictive content, and a number of children reach feelings of extreme loneliness."
Social media sites are preying upon our kids with addictive, harmful content. Scored of children are reporting intense feelings of loneliness.
That's why a bipartisan group of parents in the Senate joined together to protect our kids on social media.https://t.co/CobB5lATbI
— Chris Murphy 🟧 (@ChrisMurphyCT) May 6, 2023
Rep. Brett also tweeted Friday that the law would "protect America's children and put parents back in the driver's seat," adding in a clip of a panel discussion that depression and suicide have increased widely in recent years among children.
There's a mental health crisis across our nation, and our kids are counting on us to act now. pic.twitter.com/IN21z9wlao
— Senator Katie Boyd Britt (@SenKatieBritt) May 4, 2023
Rep. Cotton stressed that the new law "will allow parents to protect their children online, just as they do in the real world."
My bill with @brianschatz, @SenKatieBritt, and @ChrisMurphyCT will let parents protect their kids online, just as they do in the real world. Listen ⬇️ https://t.co/tGkZvKBUry
— Tom Cotton (@SenTomCotton) May 5, 2023
The law sparked a wide division among platform patrons, as some considered it a violation of privacy and restriction of children, and that it would not be a solution to their problems, and the tweeter Alexis Vandom criticized it, saying, "The solution to treating depression is not to isolate them from their surroundings that support them."
Because of course, the best idea to help depressed youth is to isolate them even more than they already are. https://t.co/Rnz54mh9Dp
— Alexis Vandom 🏳️ ⚧️ (@VandomVA) May 4, 2023
Others saw the law as a step in the right direction, important to give parents greater control over their children and what they are exposed to, and "a good start but not enough," activist Andrew Carter tweeted.
This is a good start but doesn't go far enough. The FTC is proposing rules that go up to age 18. https://t.co/hKBZHfmsoc
— Andrew Carter (@andrew_carter) May 4, 2023
According to experts, the virtual world – which occupies the minds of adolescents – is a direct cause of depression, and goes beyond it to the extent of self-harm resulting from mental disorder.
The United States has already developed a special federal law to protect children's online privacy (COPPA).
The law seeks to protect children under the age of 13 when they are online, and was drafted to prevent anyone from obtaining a child's personal information without a parent's knowledge and consent first.
Websites and platforms are required to clarify their privacy policies and obtain parental consent before collecting or using a child's personal information, such as a child's name, address, phone number, or social security number.
The law also prohibits any site from requiring a child to provide too much personal information to play a game or enter a contest online.