CHICAGO, Ill. (NBC) – Many teens are in crisis and study after study has found a link between social media and mental health. Now lawmakers want to crack down.
One proposal in Congress would ban social media for anyone under 13 and change how content is funneled to anyone under 18.
Nea Cortez, a therapist at Northwestern Medicine, sees it in her therapy sessions with teens.
She said, “I’ve had it where kids have told me like, oh, like I’m on TikTok, and then I’m watching videos on funny animals and then here I am watching you know, somebody talks about their depression and anxiety and eating disorder now do I have an eating disorder out or no? ”
A therapist for teens ages 13 to 18 in Wheaton, Illinois, Cortez said teens she talks with often go online looking for community.
“I do think it is part of their lives and a big piece as to why they do struggle with themselves and trying to you know, love themselves and figure out you know do I belong here or not?” Cortez said.
The teen mental health crisis is the reason behind the protecting kids on social media act a bipartisan bill introduced in the Senate in April.
It would prohibit anyone under the age of 13 from accessing social media platforms.
It would also prohibit platforms from using algorithms to recommend content to anyone under the age of 18.
Tania Haigh is the founder of kids too, a non-profit focused on child protection that supports the legislation
“You like it, you like a video, you like a post, you’re gonna get more of that post more of that content and draws you in and sometimes takes us in terrible places,” Haigh explained. “Well, that’s what’s been doing to all of our kids.”
The Protecting Kids on Social Media Act is just one of multiple bills before Congress right now in response to the teen mental health crisis.
Critics said social media access should be a parent’s choice, not Congress.
Cortez tells parents of kids with access to social media to focus on these two things: “First and foremost is to know what they are on. Just like you would in like an in-person interaction, know their friends online as well.”
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