Legislation threatens online access for teens without supportive parents
On Wednesday, Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) unveiled new legislation that would prohibit children under the age of 13 from creating social media accounts and would require parental consent for minors age 13 to 17 to create accounts. The bill mimics legislation which recently passed in Utah and in Arkansas. The Schatz-Cotton bill also restricts platforms’ use of algorithms to show teen users content.
“This bill threatens the millions of teens who live in households without supportive parents, for whom online communities are often a refuge,” said Chamber of Progress CEO Adam Kovacevich. “And the bill’s prohibition on algorithmically-targeted content would actually make it harder for services to steer teens to age-appropriate content. We should listen to teens, who are saying that social media is mostly playing a positive role in their lives.”
For marginalized teens looking for support, including LGBTQ+ youth, social media can be especially important. Research from the Trevor Project finds that fewer than 1 in 3 transgender and nonbinary youth find their home to be gender-affirming. For support, studies show that queer young adults turn to the Internet to explore their sexual identity, connect with peers, and find their community online.
A recent Pew study found that majorities of teens say social media provides them with a space for connection, creativity and support. When asked about the overall impact of social media on them personally, more teens responded that its effect was mostly positive (32%) than those who said it was mostly negative (9%). Many respondents credited social media for developing deeper friendships and connections.
Chamber of Progress (progresschamber.org) is a center-left tech industry policy coalition promoting technology’s progressive future. We work to ensure that all Americans benefit from technological leaps, and that the tech industry operates responsibly and fairly.
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