TEXAS — In a move to limit social media use among minors, Texas state Rep. Jared Patterson, R-Frisco, has filed a bill that would prohibit those under 18 from acquiring social media accounts. He positioned his actions as an effort to shield children from the “harmful mental health effects of social media.” It’s a promise he said he’d make good on earlier this year.

What You Need To Know

  • Texas state Rep. Jared Patterson, R-Frisco, has filed a bill ahead of the upcoming legislative session that would ban people under the age of 18 from acquiring social media accounts

  • Patterson described it as an effort to shield children from the "harmful mental health effects of social media"

  • In addition, the bill would require photo identification for profiles and let parents request an account be removed

  • Patterson said there is a strong link between social media and suicide and self-harm among children 

This bill would restrict social media usage to those 18 and older, require photo identification to verify age for profiles, let parents request an account removal for their child and allow enforcement of deceptive trade practices to the attorney general’s office if violated.

“The harms social media poses to minors are demonstrable not just in the internal research from the very social media companies that create these addictive products, but in the skyrocketing depression, anxiety, and even suicide rates we are seeing afflict children,” said Greg Sindelar, CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “We are tremendously grateful for Rep. Jared Patterson’s leadership on keeping this precious population safe, and TPPF is fully supportive of prohibiting social media access to minors to prevent the perpetual harms of social media from devastating the next generation of Texans.”

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Patterson’s office linked social media use to the high rates of self-harm and suicide seen in minors. He stated those rates were on a steady decline until 2008, when social media use drastically increased.

A news release from his office says, “From 2009-2015 there has been an 18.8% annual increase in self-harm among girls aged 10 to 14 years old and a 47.1% increase in suicide deaths from children aged 10 to 24 during a similar time period.”

According to the Texas Poison Control Center, between 2004 to 2018, there was an increase of 48.4% in suspected suicide calls for 13- to 19-year-olds.

“Social media is the pre-1964 cigarette. Once thought to be perfectly safe for users, social media access to minors has led to remarkable rises in self-harm, suicide, and mental health issues," Rep. Patterson said. “The Texas Legislature must act this session to protect children because, thus far, the social media platforms have failed to do so. HB 896 is a solution to this crisis.”

Patterson has written and approved initiatives in the following policy areas: transportation, education and property taxes. He’s also removed government regulations he felt were “unnecessary and burdensome.”

The next session of the Texas Legislature begins on Jan. 10, 2023.