Bipartisan Federal Bill Proposes National Age Limit for Social Media Use

KEY TAKEAWAYS
The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act proposes a national age limit for social media use and would require parental consent for anyone under 18 to create a profile.
The bill proposes a government-run age-verification program to ensure children do not create social media profiles, which could face challenges from the tech industry and digital rights advocates.
There is bipartisan skepticism surrounding the proposal, as lawmakers struggle to balance protecting children while maintaining the freedom and integrity of the internet.
Other proposals, such as the EARN IT Act and the Kids' Online Safety Act, have been introduced to address the impact of social media on children and can complement each other.
Some critics suggest that lawmakers should focus on modifying the basic product design of social media platforms to make them inherently safer for children and teens instead of just age limitations and parental consent.

 

A group of bipartisan US senators has introduced a new federal proposal called the Protecting Kids on Social Media Act.

This legislation aims to protect children from the potential dangers of social media by setting a national age limit for using social media platforms and regulating algorithms that target young users.

Minimum Age and Parental Consent

The proposed bill would prohibit children under 13 from creating social media accounts and restrict algorithm usage for users between the ages of 13 and 17.

While children below 13 would still be able to view online content without an account, the bill would require parental consent for anyone under 18 to create a profile.

Age-Verification Program

To ensure that children do not create social media profiles, the bill proposes a government-run age-verification program under the Department of Commerce.

This system would require children and their parents to submit identification to prove their age. 

While the legislation does not mandate the use of the government system, it signifies a substantial expansion of the government’s role in the online ecosystem.

Bipartisan Efforts and Skepticism

The bill is supported by senators from both parties who are concerned about protecting children online. However, there is bipartisan skepticism surrounding the proposal, as lawmakers struggle to balance protecting children while maintaining the freedom and integrity of the internet.

Despite the opposition, the bill’s sponsors are determined to emphasize the content-neutral nature of the proposal.

They argue that the legislation does not target specific content, but rather aims to protect vulnerable children from addictive algorithms and the potential harms of social media.

The bill is supported by senators from both parties who are concerned about protecting children online. However, there is bipartisan skepticism surrounding the proposal, as lawmakers struggle to balance protecting children while maintaining the freedom and integrity of the internet.

Tech Industry Challenges and Alternatives

While major social media companies like Instagram and TikTok claim to restrict access for children under 13, these senators argue that current efforts are insufficient.

The proposed legislation may face challenges from the tech industry, as well as digital rights advocates, who claim that age verification and parental consent requirements infringe upon the First Amendment rights of young Americans.

Complementary Legislative Efforts

The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act is not the only effort in Congress to address the impact of social media on children.

Other proposals, such as the EARN IT Act and the Kids’ Online Safety Act (KOSA), have been introduced to update existing laws and protect children’s online activities.

The bill’s sponsors believe that these efforts can complement each other, showcasing Congress’s commitment to addressing the issue from multiple angles.

Concerns and Criticisms

Some critics of the proposal argue that focusing on age limitations and parental consent may not be the most effective way to address the problem.

They suggest that lawmakers should concentrate on modifying the basic product design of social media platforms to make them inherently safer for children and teens.

Additionally, there are concerns about the privacy implications of creating a national database containing personal information about children, as well as the potential for misuse or exploitation of this data.

Conclusion

The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act has the potential to reshape the way children and teens interact with social media platforms.

While it faces opposition from various parties, including tech companies, digital rights advocates, and some lawmakers, the bill demonstrates a growing concern about the impact of social media on young users and the urgent need for more comprehensive protection measures.

The path to legislation may be challenging, but the conversation around protecting children online is becoming increasingly important in today’s digital world.

Craig Miller

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