Kids would not be able to go on to social media until age 16 under legislation proposed by Sen. Josh Hawley.
The Missouri Republican is joining a chorus of others including doctors, psychologists, and educators who say social media is one of the biggest mental and physical health risks children face today.
“For me, this is about protecting kids, protecting their mental health, protecting their safety,” he told NBC News. “There’s ample evidence to this effect that big-tech companies put their profits ahead of protecting kids online.”
Hawley detailed some top lines of what his agenda will include, such as:
- Mandating social media companies verify the age of their users.
- Providing parents a right to demand that tech companies delete their kids’ data.
- Commissioning a wide-ranging congressional mental-health study on the impact social media has on children.
Since his election to the Senate in 2018, Hawley has made scrutinizing the tech industry core to his political brand and has pushed for breaking up the tech giants and curtailing the reach of TikTok. Hawley will release individual pieces of legislation in the coming months and expressed hope that his effort could draw bipartisan interest in the divided Congress
“I’ve had a lot of conversations with Democrats across the aisle and over the years about this topic generally and about different pieces of this,” he said. “I don’t see this as a partisan issue. I mean, this is about protecting kids from the irresponsible and rapacious big tech companies. Every parent in America, whatever your political persuasion, or if you have none, can agree with that.”
Hawley, the parent of three young children, said, “I don’t want to do stuff that is that is just sort of symbolic. We are looking for ways to give parents and kids, where appropriate, actual legal rights where they can force the companies to do XYZ or go to court. So I think that giving real legal power, shifting the power from the tech companies to parents and kids through enforceable rights, including rights of action in court, I think is a key thing here.”
–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice