Texas Republican Proposes Banning Minors From Social Media

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News & Politics
Damir Mujezinovic

Billions of people around the world use social media on a daily basis to share and consume content and interact with other people.

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, and a slew of others have become the primary communication tool for not just adults, but also teenagers.

Some argue that this is inherently problematic and that minors should have restricted access to social media. One Texas Republican is taking things one step further, and proposing banning children from social media.

Banning Minors

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Rep. Jared Peterson, a member of the Texas House of Representatives from the 106th district, took to Twitter this week to endorse banning minors from social networks.

Peterson said that he will be "introducing legislation next session to ban minors from using social media."

"It's long past time to recognize the incredible harm social media is doing to the mental health of young Texans. Next session, we put an end to it," he added, tagging fellow state Rep. Mary E. Gonzalez.

TPPF's Proposal

Peterson endorsed a new proposal from the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), a non-profit research institute that was founded by conservative activist James R. Leininger.

Zach Whiting, a Senior Fellow of Technology Policy at the TPPF, authored the proposal, which argues that social media has had a negative impact on the mental health of American children.

Writing on the think-tank's official website, Whiting said that children are becoming addicted to social media, and listed a number of examples of social media use resulting in minors harming themselves.

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According to Whiting, Texas has can become "the national leader on the issue of child online safety by taking the bold step of banning social media use by minors."

"States place age-restrictions on numerous behaviors, such as driving, voting, smoking, drinking, and entering into a valid contract, among other things," Whiting argued.

"A state-driven social media ban on minors is the most effective way to protect kids from the harms of social media. Anything short accepts the premise that social media is not that bad. It is that bad."

Reactions

Peterson and TPPF's proposal was not received well on social media. In fact, many on Twitter ridiculed it and suggested that there would be no way to enforce such a ban.

However, Matt Stoller, the Director of Research at the liberal-leaning American Economic Liberties Project, argued that social media is undoubtedly bad for kids.

"Why are people making fun of this idea? Social media is clearly very bad for children and teens. Well it's bad for all of us, but it's worse for children and teens," Stoller wrote on Twitter.

"I don't exactly know what to do but at least he's acknowledging there's a very serious problem," he said of Peterson's suggestion.

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