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Texas lawmaker introduces bill banning minors from social media

"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."

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Joshua Young Youngsville North Carolina
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GOP lawmaker Jared Patterson, a state representative from Denton County, Texas, has introduced HB 896, a bill that would ban minors in Texas from having social media accounts.

His office provided a press release on Wednesday which read, "HB 896 would prohibit minors from obtaining social media accounts in Texas. Specifically, this legislation seeks to limit social media usage to profile accounts 18 and older, requires profiles to utilize photo identification as a means of age verification, allows parents the opportunity to request account removal of their child, and grants enforcement of deceptive trade practices to the Office of the Attorney General if violated."

Patterson's office noted statistics that show suicide rates for minors were on the decline in the US until 2008 but saw an 18.8 percent increase annually between 2009 - 2015 among girls 10 - 14 years of age. In a similar time period, humans between the ages of 10 - 24 committed suicide at a 47.1 percent increase.

"Social media is the pre-1964 cigarette," Patterson said. "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."

As Fox News reports, Instagram and Facebook, both owned by parent company Meta, have a 13-year-old minimum age requirement but do not verify the veracity of a user's information.

HB 896 adds a verification component by mandating a minor confirm their age through photo ID. 

The CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation Greg Sindelar said in a statement, "The harms social media poses to minors are demonstrable not just in the internal research from the very social media companies that create these addictive products, but in the skyrocketing depression, anxiety, and even suicide rates we are seeing afflict children."

"We are tremendously grateful for Rep. Jared Patterson's leadership on keeping this precious population safe, and TPPF is fully supportive of prohibiting social media access to minors to prevent the perpetual harms of social media from devastating the next generation of Texans," Sindelar added.

Another feature of the bill is that HB 896 would give social media companies 10 days to remove a minor's profile if a parent made such a request. No social media company currently acknowledges parental rights in the user accounts of minors.

According to the Wall Street Journal, internal documents from Facebook showed that the social media platform was "toxic for teen girls."

The outlet reported that 40 percent of teenagers claimed they used social media for the sake of looking good to others. 32 percent of teen girls said Instagram heightened insecurities about their body image.

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Patterson

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