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Senate Bill Would Set Age Requirement for Children on Social Media

An incoming bill in the Senate will set a minimum age for children on social media, The Washington Post reported Tuesday.

The bill, led by Democrat Sen. Brian Schatz (HI) and Republican Sen. Tom Cotton (AR), would set an age limit for kids on social media and lay out how social media platforms can use algorithms to target minors, a Senate aide told the Post on the condition of anonymity. 

The bill would ban children under age 13 from accessing social media and require teenagers ages 13 through 17 for parental consent before using social media. Democrat Sen. Chris Murphy (CT) and Republican Sen. Katie Boyd Britt (R-AK) are co-sponsors, the aide told the Post.

In recent years, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pushed legislation to protect children on social media. Townhall covered how a lawmaker in Florida proposed a bill that would require public schools in the state to teach children about social media safety. 

“It’s about protecting kids,” Florida State Sen. Danny Burgess (R) said of the legislation, according to The Hill. “It’s about helping them realize things they do today may live long after they posted it.”

On Capitol Hill, some Republican lawmakers have introduced legislation to keep children under age 16 off social media altogether. 

“We protect our children from drinking, from smoking, from driving. They can’t drive when they’re 12,” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), who introduced one of the bills earlier this year, told the Post. “We should protect them from the impacts of social media.” One of the roadblocks with the legislation is how to verify the ages of younger users. 

Last fall, a poll published by Parents Defending Education conducted by WPAi Intelligence showed that over two-thirds of parents, 68 percent, said they are not comfortable with their children using social media platform TikTok without supervision, including 73 percent of parents ages 18-34. The majority of parents, 68 percent, said they were not comfortable with their child using Facebook without supervision. A majority of parents, 63 percent, said they were not comfortable with their children using Instagram without parental supervision, including 74 percent of parents with a child in elementary school. Seventy-four percent of parents are not comfortable with their children using Snapchat unsupervised. Out of all platforms, parents are least comfortable with Snapchat. 

"Over the past several years, the role of technology in children’s lives has become a growing concern for American parents,” said Nicki Neily, President and Founder of Parents Defending Education said in a statement. “Parents desire more knowledge about – and control over – what their children have access to, and want policy changes that will empower them to keep them safe."

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