WASHINGTON (Nexstar) – A Republican congressman says social media is so harmful for kids and teens that they should be banned from using it, just like kids aren’t allowed to drink or smoke.
Congressman Chris Stewart says he hasn’t officially introduced his bill to ban social media for kids under 16 because he’s working on building up support behind the scenes first.
“It’s destroyed their sense of self-worth, and their confidence and their sense of hope in the future,” Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) said.
Studies show social media leads to an elevated risk of depression and suicide as Stewart noted, “nearly a third of our young people age 14-24 have considered suicide and have discussed how they would commit suicide with a friend.”
Stewart’s proposal would only apply to new accounts. Additionally, social media platforms would be required to verify a new users age and would be legally liable if they don’t.
Stewart says parents want their kids off social media, but worry they will be socially isolated and ostracized if they are the only ones. That’s why he says the ban needs to be nationwide.
Califorina Democratic Congressman Lou Correa is open to the idea.
“There’s very few checks and balances, so this is an area we need to look at,” Rep. Lou Correa (D-CA) said.
But California Congressman Ro Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, says it’s not the right approach.
“There needs to be regulation but there are kids who are LGBTQ who social media is their only avenue. There are kids who don’t have a good relationship with their parents who rely on social media,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) said.
Stewart also expects push back from the tech lobby, but says something has to be done, adding, “an average 13-year-old who’s spending nine hours a day on social media, the average eight year old, five hours a day.”
Congressman Stewart says he’s had initial conversations with the White House and hopes to have the president’s support for the bill.