New Texas Bill Would Ban Social Media For Children Under 18

A state lawmaker in Texas has filed legislation which would ban social media for children under the age of 18 in an effort to fight the negative mental health consequences of online use.

Republican state Rep. Jared Patterson of North Texas filed HB 896, which would require individuals who sign on to a social media platform to be at least 18 years old.

Arguing that the ban would help alleviate depression and other ill effects, the Republican lawmaker compared social media to cigarettes — which were previously thought to be harmless but have since been banned for children.

“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,” Patterson explained.

Greg Sindelar, CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, praised the Republican lawmaker for filing the legislation.

“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,” Sindelar said.

“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.

The legislation would require social media websites to verify the age of a user with photo identification, and would also allow parents to request for their children’s account to be removed.

While most social media websites have a requirement for users to be at least 13 years old, they don’t actually require proof to verify the age of their users.

This is not the only action being taken in Texas against social media — as the state on Wednesday banned the use of the Chinese social media app TikTok by state employees and agencies, citing national security concerns over spying by the Chinese Communist Party. Texas is now the third state to take such an action, following South Dakota and Maryland.