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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: May 5, 2023 09:42 AM
From: Senator Vincent J. Hughes and Sen. Kristin Phillips-Hill
To: All Senate members
Subject: Social Media Protections for Minors
In the near future we plan on introducing legislation to protect minors and their mental health from social media.  We are facing a mental health crisis in the Commonwealth.  The data shows far too many minors are struggling with mental health, a fact laid bare during the COVID pandemic, and that social media is a contributing factor.

The use of social media by teenagers is near universal.  According to data collected by Pew in 2022, 95% of teens reported using YouTube and 67% of teens have used TikTok.  A 2018 study conducted by Pew found that 45% of teens reported feeling overwhelmed by the drama on social media and 26% reported feeling worse about their own lives.  A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report found that 16% of high school students reported being electronically bullied in 2021 and, between 2011-2021, nearly 60% of female students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness while 10% of female students reported attempting suicide.

Recently, Bucks County filed a civil lawsuit against the companies behind TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube alleging their platforms have worsened anxiety and depression among young people. Statistics from Bucks County schools from a 2022 survey found that 34% of the area’s school-aged youth were at risk for moderate to severe depression and more than 25% of students reported a history of suicidal ideation. 

Our legislation is based off bills in other states, such as Connecticut and Ohio, as well as the Clean Slate for Kids Online Act introduced in the United States Senate.  Our proposed legislation would:
  1. Require consent from a parent or legal guardian for anyone under 16 to open a social media account;
  2. Notify parents or legal guardians if a child under 16 opens a social media account without proper consent;
  3. Prohibit data mining for any user under 18;
  4. Allow individuals to request deletion of information collected or obtained while the individual was under 18; and
  5. Create a cause of action for parents or legal guardians of minors against social media companies for harm to their children.
We hope you will join us in cosponsoring this legislation.

Introduced as SB22