(CNSNews.com) – Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) has introduced a bill that would set an age requirement of 16 for social media usage, sparking a debate about the role of government in keeping kids safe online.
On Feb. 14, Hawley introduced the Making Age-Verification Technology Uniform, Robust, and Effective Act (MATURE Act).
According to a press release, the MATURE Act would “prohibit social media companies from offering accounts to users under age 16, and hold social media companies accountable by creating an audit process and a private right of action.”
“Children suffer every day from the effects of social media,” said Sen. Hawley. “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,” he added.
In addition to the MATURE Act, Hawley also introduced the Federal Social Media Research Act, which would “commission a report on the harms of social media, and fully fund a longitudinal study to track social media’s effects on children over 10 years.”
“It’s long past time for well-funded research on the scale of the problem,” said the senator. “We must set the precedent that these companies can no longer take advantage of our children.”
Hawley’s MATURE Act drew some criticism from opponents that think setting a requirement for social media usage is an instance of government overreach and a violation of parental choice.
“How about Josh Hawley takes care of his kids, and I take care of my kids, and others take care of their kids. My kids are not his kids, and neither are anyone else’s kids. If he needs the federal government in charge of his family, then he should write a bill just for that,” said former libertarian member of Congress Justin Amash on Twitter.
How about Josh Hawley takes care of his kids, and I take care of my kids, and others take care of their kids. My kids are not his kids, and neither are anyone else’s kids. If he needs the federal government in charge of his family, then he should write a bill just for that. https://t.co/q4y4LULGcT
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) February 15, 2023
Hawley’s push to prevent kids younger than 16 from accessing social media comes just a few weeks after the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy said that 13-year-olds are too young to be using social media.
“I, personally, based on the data I’ve seen, believe that 13 is too early … it’s a time where it’s really important for us to be thoughtful about what’s going into how they think about their own self-worth and their relationships and the skewed and often distorted environments of social media often does a disservice to many of those children,” Murthy told CNN in late January.
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