Texas: State Rep. Jared Patterson Wants To Ban Minors From Using Social Media

Representative Jared Patterson (R-Texas) intends to submit legislation in 2023 prohibiting the use of social media by minors.

According to Patterson, the purpose of the measure is to safeguard the mental health of children. A conversation with school administrators after the massacre at Uvalde High School in Texas inspired the creation of a new measure. Patterson expressed worry about the influence of social media on children’s well-being as well as school safety.

In a previous post on Twitter earlier this month, Patterson announced his intention to submit legislation that would prohibit social media companies from allowing users under the age of 18 to use their services.

His comment was a reaction to an article that had been distributed by the Texas Public Policy Foundation. On the basis of a report of a young girl who was subjected to a bombardment of films on unhealthy body image, eating disorders, and self-harm, the hardline group proposed preventing children from using social media.

Twitter users were quick to oppose the notion, with some arguing that weapons, not social media, should be outlawed as a means of communication. Others argued that parents, not the government, should make the decision about their children’s social media use.

Patterson argues that parents are up against a massive business that promotes highly addictive products in the home. In the period from 2007 to 2017, there was an increase in the number of suicides and acts of self-harm, which is consistent with the rise in the use of social media. There was a decrease in suicide rates prior to 2007.

Cyberbullying and school shootings have been related to social media, but the law would not be a cure-all for mental health concerns, he added. “Look, I’m not saying if we ban social media providers that we will have no more mass shootings. What I am saying is this is absolutely a piece of it. “

According to him, it is illegal for minors to purchase firearms, cigarettes, or alcohol, and he went on to say that the legal system does a far better job of protecting children’s physical safety than it does their mental safety.

Using social media now is like smoking cigarettes back in the 1960s, according to Patterson. “They are built to hook you in longer, just like a drug,” he said.

Patterson said that the concept has been met with ambivalent responses from other legislators, with some expressing the belief that a ban would be difficult to pass. According to a press release, companies including TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter have been asked to attend an Aug. 8 discussion on the subject.

Patterson said that he had no desire to imprison anybody, even children or their parents. The measure would punish social media corporations for permitting minors to use their sites. “I think there’s broad bipartisan support,” he said. “I think there’s going to be broad bipartisan opposition.”

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