This week, State Rep. Jared Patterson (R–Frisco) announced he would introduce legislation in the 2023 legislative session to ban minors from using social media. 

The announcement came in response to a Texas Public Policy Foundation article that examined destructive harms adolescents have endured due to social media use.

Patterson tweeted, “It’s long past time to recognize the incredible harm social media is doing to the mental health of young Texans. Next session, we put an end to it.” 

TPPF recently featured stories of several adolescents who have experienced tragic results of social media addictions. A girl named Alexis started using Instagram at a young age and has now battled anorexia, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts for years. Two teenage boys, C.J. and Ian, took their own lives while using social media.

Now the families of the teenagers are looking to hold social media companies accountable.

In the digital age, it is not uncommon for many children and teens to use social media to connect with others around the world. However, studies have shown there are negative consequences to extreme social media use at a young age. The filtered portrayal of others’ lives on social media can often leave the viewer with feelings of inadequacy and low self-esteem, which are common symptoms of mental illnesses like depression, eating disorders, and substance abuse.

A study by JAMA Psychiatry found that adolescents who spend more than three hours a day on social media are at a heightened risk for developing mental health problems. 

In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America shared an article saying that the fear of missing out (FOMO) is really the fear of not being connected to the social world. This causes adolescents to be occupied with worry, causing more anxiety and loneliness.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also found a new mental health disorder called “Facebook depression,” where adolescents who spend time on social media begin to exhibit classic symptoms of depression as a result of “the intensity of the online world.”

Though Congress continues to debate various bills aimed at addressing the concerns associated with social media use, no progress has been made. 

Patterson has not yet released details of his plan, but if such legislation is passed, minors could be protected from harms exacerbated by social media use.

Emily Wilkerson

Emily is a summer fellow for Texas Scorecard. She is a senior at the University of Oklahoma, studying journalism with a minor in political science. She enjoys investigative journalism and making sure that every side of a story is being told.

RELATED POSTS