Texas bill would ban kids from social media

young boy on the phone
Photo credit Getty

A North Texas state representative has filed a bill that would increase the minimum age to use social media apps like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter from 13 to 18. Jared Patterson (R-Frisco) filed the bill this week.

HB 896 would require sites to verify a person's age before allowing that person to sign up for an account. Users would have to post a picture of their driver license and a second picture showing themselves along with the driver license to confirm the person's identity.

Patterson says suicide rates were declining steadily in the U.S. until 2008. He says suicide rates have increased among kids since then as social media has become more popular.

Patterson cites statistics from the Texas Poison Control Center showing a 48.4% increase in suicide calls among teenagers from 2004 to 2018. He says there was an 18.8% increase in self-harm among girls ten to 14 years old from 2009 to 2015 and a 47.1% increase in suicide from people ten to 24 years old.

"Social media is the pre-1964 cigarette," Patterson wrote in a statement. "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. The Texas legislature must act this session to protect children because, thus far, the social media platforms have failed to do so. HB 896 is a solution to this crisis."

When Patterson tweeted about the bill this week, some users said they favored the bill with one writing, "I completely support this Bill."

Others replied in opposition with one person asking how it would be enforced. Another asked, "How is this not a violation for freedom of speach [sic]?"

The next Texas legislative session starts January 10, 2023.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty