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Texas representative files bill that would ban minors from social media

It would require social-media platforms to verify the account is held by someone who is at least 18 years old.
Posted at 7:40 PM, Dec 14, 2022

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A Texas legislator moved to ban social media for all minors in the state.

Jared Patterson, a state representative for Denton County filed Texas House Bill 896 on Dec.7.

It would require social media platforms to verify the account is held by someone who is at least 18 years old.

According to the Pew Research Center, 54 percent of teens interviewed between 13 to 18 years said it would be too hard to give up social media.

“There’s a lot of research that shows there are correlations with social media use and depression and anxiety,” Doctor Michelle Hollenbaugh said. “Lots of different mental health symptoms.”

Hollenbaugh is a psychology professor at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.

“They’ve looked at a lot of things like fear of missing out, body image when someone might see someone else’s picture and feel bad about themselves,” Hollenbaugh said. “Self-esteem.”

Not only would users have to provide a picture of their driver’s license, but a picture of them holding it.

Their personal information would only be used for verification and deleted after.

In a statement about why he filed HB 896, Patterson compared social media to a pre-1964 cigarette.

He said that once thought to be safe for users, “Social media access to minors has led to remarkable rises in self-harm, suicide, and mental health issues,” Patterson said." "The Texas legislature must act this session to protect children because, thus far, the social media platforms have failed to do so."

Up until the mid-2000s, most students were still passing handwritten notes.

“You might pass that note to one individual, now on social media someone can post something on social media and it can go to hundreds of individuals,” Hollenbaugh said. “You do have more access to people online but you also have access to people you do not know,” Cameron Odom, 15, said.

Hollenbaugh said parents should always talk to their children about what they see on social media and their feelings and thoughts surrounding it.

If passed into law, it would go into effect on Sept. 1, 2023.