December 7, 2022

(Austin, TX) — Today, Representative Jared Patterson filed HB 896 making good on a promise earlier this year to protect children from the harmful mental health effects of social media. HB 896 would prohibit minors from obtaining social media accounts in Texas. Specifically, this legislation seeks to limit social media usage to profile accounts 18 and older, requires profiles to utilize photo identification as a means of age verification, allows parents the opportunity to request account removal of their child, and grants enforcement of deceptive trade practices to the Office of the Attorney General if violated.

Self-harm and suicide rates were steadily declining in the United States until 2008. As social media use among minors has risen dramatically, so have self-harm and suicide rates.

From 2009-2015 there has been an 18.8% annual increase in self-harm among girls aged 10 to 14 years old and a 47.1% increase in suicide deaths from children aged 10 to 24 during a similar time period. Texas Poison Control Center reported an increase of 48.4% in suspected suicide calls for 13 to 19 year olds from 2004 to 2018.

“The harms social media poses to minors are demonstrable not just in the internal research from the very social media companies that create these addictive products, but in the skyrocketing depression, anxiety, and even suicide rates we are seeing afflict children,” said Greg Sindelar, CEO of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “We are tremendously grateful for Rep. Jared Patterson’s leadership on keeping this precious population safe, and TPPF is fully supportive of prohibiting social media access to minors to prevent the perpetual harms of social media from devastating the next generation of Texans.”

“Social media is the pre-1964 cigarette. Once thought to be perfectly safe for users, social media access to minors has led to remarkable rises in self-harm, suicide, and mental health issues.” stated Rep. Patterson. “The Texas legislature must act this session to protect children because, thus far, the social media platforms have failed to do so. HB 896 is a solution to this crisis.”

Jared Patterson represents House District 106, which encompasses the eastern portion of Denton County. During the 86th Legislative Session, Patterson authored and passed initiatives in policy areas such as transportation, education, property taxes, as well as eliminated unnecessary and burdensome government regulations. Patterson serves on the House Committees on Business & Industry, Calendars, and Homeland Security & Public Safety. He also serves on the Texas Cybersecurity Council. His family resides in Frisco.