Republican Senator Wants the Gov't to Tell You When You Can Let Your Kids Use Social Media

AP Photo/John Raoux
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So much for parental right, right? Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) is advocating for federal legislation that would make it illegal for children under the age of 16 to be allowed on social media. The lawmaker argued that tech companies are prioritizing profit over the protection of kids.

The senator has built his brand largely on attacking Big Tech for censorship practices, privacy issues, and others. He has also called for a complete ban on TikTok, a Chinese-owned video sharing app. Under his proposal, companies would be required to verify that users are 16 years old or older.

“For me, this is about protecting kids, protecting their mental health, protecting their safety,” Hawley told NBC News in an interview. “There’s ample evidence to this effect that big tech companies put their profits ahead of protecting kids online.”

The lawmaker expressed confidence that his colleagues on both sides of the aisle could support such a measure.

“I’ve had a lot of conversations with Democrats across the [aisle] and over the years about this topic generally and about different pieces of this,” Hawley told NBC. “I don’t see this as a partisan issue. I mean, this is about protecting kids from the irresponsible and rapacious big tech companies. Every parent in America, whatever your political persuasion, or if you have none, can agree with that.”

Along with compelling social media companies to verify the age of their users, Hawley’s proposal would give parents a right to demand that these companies delete their kids’ data and would create a congressional mental health study looking at the impact of social media on children.

The senator told NBC that over the past 10 years, tech companies have performed “a giant social experiment involving our kids, where big tech makes gobs of money, collects gobs of data, which they then sell and make even more money on.”

“And kids get hurt in the process,” he continued. “And so the whole aim of this agenda is: Let’s do something real and tangible, that is going to protect kids online and get power back to parents.”

Hawley plans to release the provisions of the legislative proposal over the next few months.

I’ll be blunt: This is a silly, if not outright authoritarian idea.

It flies in the face of parental rights, which is an issue conservatives have been fighting for over the past three years when it was revealed that schools were encroaching on a parent’s right to determine what their child should be learning.

For starters, this type of legislation would not somehow “get power back to parents,” as Hawley claims. If anything, it removes the parent’s authority to determine what activities their kids are allowed to participate in. It is a gross overreach of governmental authority and yet another way to bring the state further into our households.

Additionally, such a measure would be nearly impossible to enforce at scale. The Washington Examiner’s Brad Polumbo broke it down perfectly:

It’s worth pointing out how hilariously naive this legislative proposal is. If passed, it would take any teenager approximately two minutes to circumvent it. All they would have to do is download one of countless free VPN apps and set their location to Canada or anywhere else in the world where these laws are not in place (something teenagers already often do to circumvent content restrictions on platforms such as Netflix). And boom — they’d be able to access social media even under the age of 16.

This is not to say that a governing authority has no role to play in protecting children. We already have laws prohibiting parents from physically or emotionally abusing their children. States have measures preventing adults from feeding alcohol or other illicit substances to kids. To put it simply, the government already protects the rights of children in these matters – which is all it is supposed to do.

The state has no role in how one parents their children. If an adult is okay with their child being on Instagram or Twitter, the government has no business using its authority to tell them they can’t. Sure, this means many parents will raise their children in ways of which we disapprove. But this does not mean the government should get a say.

Moreover, where could such legislation lead? Hawley indicated a willingness to work with Democrats on this type of legislation. These are the same people who want to protect school districts transitioning children to the opposite gender without their parents’ knowledge. Leftists are actively pushing efforts to indoctrinate kids in school.

In some areas, Democratic lawmakers have suggested punishing parents for not adhering to progressive gender ideology as it pertains to their children. Why would someone who claims to be a conservative be comfortable colluding with people who think your children belong to the state and not to you? These are the questions we should be asking, when Hawley and others start pushing this type of legislation. Trust me, dear reader, this is not a door we want to see opened, ever.



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