Bad Day for Groomers: Texas Bans Children from Social Media Without Parental Consent

schoolkids using smartphones
dolgachov/Getty, file

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) signed a bill on Tuesday making it so that children under the age of 18 will need parental consent to join a wide variety of social media sites.

The bill, HB 18, mandates that social media companies obtain explicit consent from a minor’s parent or guardian before the child is allowed to create a social media account. This is set to take effect in September 2024.

AUSTIN, TX - MAY 24: Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds a roundtable discussion with victims, family, and friends affected by the Santa Fe, Texas school shooting at the state capital on May 24, 2018 in Austin, Texas. Representatives from Sutherland Springs, Alpine, and Killeen were also invited and address the governor. (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (Photo by Drew Anthony Smith/Getty Images)

The legislation also orders Silicon Valley giants to create new filtering systems in order to prevent children from seeing “harmful” content, such as material involving eating disorders, substance abuse, and grooming.

Breitbart News previously reported that social media giants like Facebook know just how bad social media can be for teenagers, especially young girls. According to internal documents obtained by the Wall Street Journal:

“Thirty-two percent of teen girls said that when they felt bad about their bodies, Instagram made them feel worse,” the researchers said in a March 2020 slide presentation posted to Facebook’s internal message board, reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. “Comparisons on Instagram can change how young women view and describe themselves.”

“We make body image issues worse for one in three teen girls,” said one slide from 2019, summarizing research about teen girls who experience the issues.

“Teens blame Instagram for increases in the rate of anxiety and depression,” said another slide. “This reaction was unprompted and consistent across all groups.”

Carl Szabo, NetChoice vice president and general counsel, said he was “disappointed” to see the Texas governor “sign into law a bill that erodes parental rights while violating the First Amendment and digital freedoms for every Texan,” according to a report by the Verge.

“This new law prioritizes government decree over Texan family values,” Szabo added.

The Texas attorney general will also be able to sue any company that is found to be in violation of the state’s new law.

There will, however, be some exceptions to the law, such as sites that predominantly distribute educational material or news content, as well as email services, the report added.

Texas is not the only state pushing back against the harm that social media sites pose on children.

As Breitbart News reported last month, Utah Gov. Spencer Cox (R) signed two pieces of legislation that require social media companies to get parental consent for minors to use their platforms.

“We’re no longer willing to let social media companies continue to harm the mental health of our youth,” Gov. Cox said.

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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