by Laurel Duggan
Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley introduced legislation Tuesday barring social media companies from offering accounts to children under 16.
The “MATURE Act” would require social media platforms to verify that users are 16 or older by scanning government-issued ID and prohibit social media companies from opening accounts for children under 16. The legislation would allow parents of children under 16 to sue social media platforms for damages if the platform allows their child to open an account.
“Children suffer every day from the effects of social media. At best, Big Tech companies are neglecting our children’s health and monetizing their personal information. At worst, they are complicit in their exploitation and manipulation. It’s time to give parents the weapons they need to strike back,” Hawley said in a press release. “That starts with an age restriction for social media. And it’s long past time for well-funded research on the scale of the problem. We must set the precedent that these companies can no longer take advantage of our children.”
Today I’m introducing legislation to set an age requirement of 16 to open a social media account. Protect kids online
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) February 14, 2023
Hawley also introduced legislation Tuesday commissioning a report on the impact of social media on children over 10 years old, with an emphasis on gender dysphoria, depression, anxiety, suicidality, eating disorders and attention deficit disorder.
As the rate of transgender identification among youth has soared in recent years, some mental health professionals have pointed to social media as a possible conduit for social contagion.
TikTok is flooded with content promoting gender transitions as the solution to common adolescent woes, and several detransitioners have reported that they became transgender and underwent cross-sex procedures they now regret due to influence from online communities they discovered on social media.
– – –