May 20, 2024

Senate Aims to Restrict Social Media For Children Under 13

By Andrew Giba

Over the past couple of years, social media has helped people stay connected with their friends and family. During the COVID stay-at-home orders, platforms such as TikTok, Twitter and Instagram became increasingly popular to help cope with the terrible feeling of being isolated. Since then, there have been many safety concerns such as invasion of privacy, cyber bullying and the risk of coming across offensive or inappropriate content. This has led to 4 U.S. Senators to introduce legislation that would ban all children under 13 from having a social media account.

Senators Katie Britt, Chris Murphy, Brian Schatz and Tom Cotton, introduced a bipartisan bill that would deny and child under the age of 13 the ability to have a social media account and anyone else under 18 would require permission from a guardian. In addition to the age ban, the new bill would require all social media companies to stop using algorithms to recommend content to people under 18 years old.

Social media and other big tech companies have been criticized countless times for their lack of protection on social media. Right now, there are little precautions that are being used to stop children from cyberbullying, sharing inappropriate content or any other problematic behavior. This piece of legislation would put an end to that by stripping young children of any possible access.

For those who are in support of the potential ban, they think it is important to protect children from the dangers of social media at all costs. They also think that children 13 and under should not choose for themselves when they think it is ok for them to get a social media account. For those who are against the ban, they think that a ban would be ineffective, and that social media does more good than harm for children. They also argue that taking away social media would be detrimental because the kids would no longer be able to connect with their friends or work on their communication skills.

The most controversial question regarding this topic is: Who gets to decide to ban social media? Most people would argue that it is up to the parents to decide if their children can or cannot have a social media account. Some may even say that a ban in general would not solve this problem at all. While there are many valid arguments for both sides, the one common argument they share is that a child’s safety should come first.

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3 thoughts on “Senate Aims to Restrict Social Media For Children Under 13

  1. I enjoyed reading this! I think this topic has so much controversy around it. It is hard to say who gets to make these rules and if it would even help. Social media has become such a norm in today’s society that we sometimes forget the negative impacts it can have. I think children under 13 should have restrictions. Good job on this piece!

  2. I think you bring up great questions here! Ultimately, a lot of social media regulation comes down to whether or not a publication (like an app) constitutes as a public forum, and whether or not that application can be internationally governed. TikTok, for example, is a foreign application to the United States in origin. It is also one that asks its individual users to agree to its terms of usage and then create individual, personalized profiles. As such, is it at all within the U.S. government’s rights to ban all usage of the app? When it comes to age specifically, as you address, should the rights (or lack thereof) to social media be governed by the parents, as the user is a minor? The Senate has made much headway to address these decisions, so I think it will be especially interesting to watch what happens.

  3. You provided a great analysis of a complex issue! I agree that we have seen the detriments of social media on mental health and safety — particularly for minors using the app without a comprehensive understanding of the risks. I also think you are correct in pointing out the disconnect and communication deficit that could arise for minors not using social media. So much of our world and communication styles are online, and establishing online media literacy at a young age has become increasingly important.

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