WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Katie Britt (R-Ala.) introduced new legislation to keep kids off social media and help protect them from its harmful impacts. The Kids Off Social Media Act updates legislation Murphy introduced last spring and would set a minimum age of 13 to use social media platforms and prevent social media companies from feeding algorithmically-targeted content to users under the age of 17. U.S. Senators Peter Welch (D-Vt.)., Ted Budd (R-N.C.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Mark Warner (D-Va.) also cosponsored the legislation.

“As a parent, I see firsthand how damaging social media can be to kids. Social media companies know that they are hurting our children with their addictive products, yet they refuse to adequately protect our kids from harm because it would hurt the companies' profits. The intentionally addictive algorithms used on these kids can spoon feed content glorifying suicide or eating disorders within minutes of creating an account. That's horrifying, and it's why it's especially important to treat these algorithms just like nicotine or alcohol and keep them away from minors. I'm glad we have bipartisan agreement on this legislation and look forward to getting it through committee and onto the floor as soon as possible,” said Murphy.

“There is no good reason for a nine-year-old to be on Instagram or TikTok. The growing evidence is clear: social media is making kids more depressed, more anxious, and more suicidal. This is an urgent health crisis, and Congress must act,” said Schatz.

“Every parent with a young child or a teenager either worries about, or knows first-hand, the real harms and dangers of addictive and anxiety-inducing social media. Parents know there’s no good reason for a child to be doom-scrolling or binge-watching reels that glorify unhealthy lifestyles. The Kids Off Social Media Act not only helps these families in crisis, but it also gives teachers control over their classrooms. Our bill includes bipartisan provisions I’ve championed to restrict teenagers’ access to social media on federally-subsidized school networks and devices. Young students should have their eyes on the board, not their phones,” said Cruz. “I am grateful to Sen. Schatz for his dedication to finding solutions to the significant challenges facing millions of parents of young children and am hopeful that our bipartisan legislation, along with other proposals like KOSA and COPPA 2.0, will greatly reduce the physical and emotional dangers threatening many of America’s youth.”

“There is no doubt that our country is facing a growing youth mental health crisis that is inextricably tied to the rise of social media usage by children and teenagers. Families are being devastated and futures are being destroyed in every corner of our nation. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact the commonsense, age-appropriate solutions needed to tackle this generational challenge,” said Britt.

No age demographic is more affected by the ongoing mental health crisis in the United States than kids, especially young girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 57 percent of high school girls and 29 percent of high school boys felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, with 22 percent of all high school students—and nearly a third of high school girls—reporting they had seriously considered attempting suicide in the preceding year.

Studies have shown a strong relationship between social media use and poor mental health, especially among children. From 2019 to 2021, overall screen use among teens and tweens (ages 8 to 12) increased by 17 percent, with tweens using screens for five hours and 33 minutes per day and teens using screens for eight hours and 39 minutes. Based on the clear and growing evidence, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory last year, calling for new policies to set and enforce age minimums and highlighting the importance of limiting the use of features, like algorithms, that attempt to maximize time, attention, and engagement.

Specifically, the Kids Off Social Media Act would:

  • Prohibit children under the age of 13 from creating or maintaining social media accounts, consistent with the current practices of major social media companies;
  • Prohibit social media companies from pushing targeted content using algorithms to users under the age of 17;
  • Provide the FTC and state attorneys general authority to enforce the provisions of the bill; and
  • Follow existing CIPA framework to require schools to block and filter social media on their federally funded networks, which many schools already do.

Parents overwhelmingly support the mission of the Kids Off Social Media Act. A survey conducted by Count on Mothers shows that over 90 percent of mothers agree that there should be a minimum age of 13 for social media. Additionally, 87 percent of mothers agree that social media companies should not be allowed to use personalized recommendation systems to deliver content to children. Pew finds similar levels of concern from parents, reporting that 70 percent or more of parents worry that their teens are being exposed to explicit content or wasting too much time on social media, with two-thirds of parents saying that parenting is harder today compared to 20 years ago—and many of them cited social media as a contributing factor.

The Kids Off Social Media Act is supported by the American Counseling Association, KidsToo, National Association of Social Workers, National Association of Pediatric Nurse Practitioners, Tyler Clementi Foundation, National Council for Mental Wellbeing, Count on Mothers, Parents Television and Media Council, Parents Who Fight, Public Citizen, National Federation of Families, National Organization for Women, National Association of School Nurses, National League for Nursing, and American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

The text of the legislation can be found HERE. For more information on the Kids Off Social Media Act, click HERE.