Sens. Cruz, Schatz Lead Colleagues With New Bill To Keep Kids Safe, Healthy, and * * * Off * * * Social Media

May 1, 2024

New bipartisan bill bans social media age for children under 13 and blocks use of addictive algorithms for teens 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Commerce Committee Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) are leading a bipartisan coalition of their colleagues in introducing The Kids Off Social Media Act, legislation to keep kids off addictive social media and help protect them from its harmful effects.

The Kids Off Social Media Act updates legislation Sen. Schatz introduced last spring and would set a minimum age of 13 to use social media platforms and prevent social media companies from feeding algorithmically-boosted content to users under the age of 17. This legislation also includes Sen. Cruz’s previously introduced Eyes on the Board Act, a bipartisan bill to block social media access at schools. While existing law requires schools collecting federal subsidies to certify that a firewall blocks access to obscenity, pornography, and other harmful sexual content, there is currently no similar restriction blocking access on school networks to distracting and addictive social media apps and websites.

In addition to Sens. Cruz and Schatz, this legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Katie Britt (R-Ala.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Angus King (I-Maine), and Mark Warner (D-Va.).

Upon introduction, the senators said:

“Every parent with a young child or a teenager either worries about, or knows first-hand, the real harms and dangers of addictive and anxiety-inducing social media. Parents know there’s no good reason for a child to be doom-scrolling or binge-watching reels that glorify unhealthy lifestyles. The Kids Off Social Media Act not only helps these families in crisis, but it also gives teachers control over their classrooms. Our bill includes bipartisan provisions I’ve championed to restrict teenagers’ access to social media on federally-subsidized school networks and devices. Young students should have their eyes on the board, not their phones,” said Ranking Member Cruz.  “I am grateful to Sen. Schatz for his dedication to finding solutions to the significant challenges facing millions of parents of young children and am hopeful that our bipartisan legislation, along with other proposals like KOSA and COPPA 2.0, will greatly reduce the physical and emotional dangers threatening many of America’s youth.”

“There is no good reason for a nine-year-old to be on Instagram or TikTok. There just isn’t. The growing evidence is clear: social media is making kids more depressed, more anxious, and more suicidal. This is an urgent health crisis, and Congress must act,” said Senator Schatz.

“As a parent, I see firsthand how damaging social media can be to kids. Social media companies know that they are hurting our children with their addictive products, yet they refuse to adequately protect our kids from harm because it would hurt the companies' profits. The intentionally addictive algorithms used on these kids can spoon feed content glorifying suicide or eating disorders within minutes of creating an account. That's horrifying, and it's why it's especially important to treat these algorithms just like nicotine or alcohol and keep them away from minors. I'm glad we have bipartisan agreement on this legislation and look forward to getting it through committee and onto the floor as soon as possible,” said Senator Murphy.

“There is no doubt that our country is facing a growing youth mental health crisis that is inextricably tied to the rise of social media usage by children and teenagers. Families are being devastated and futures are being destroyed in every corner of our nation. I’ll continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to enact the commonsense, age-appropriate solutions needed to tackle this generational challenge,” said Senator Britt.

“Social media can take a serious toll on kids’ mental health and wellbeing, and it’s critical those problems don’t go unaddressed,” said Senator Welch. “I’m proud to partner with a bipartisan group of my colleagues to protect children’s safety, mental health, and wellbeing online.”

“Parents in North Carolina and across the country are rightly concerned about the mental health crisis among our young people. This bipartisan bill includes the Eyes on the Board Act, which is a commonsense solution to ensure that kids are focused on their studies at school rather than social media. I’m proud to join my colleagues to propose a solution to ensure that the next generation of Americans is protected from harmful habits that rob them of their attention and their mental health,” said Senator Budd.

“As a parent to three teenagers and a social media user myself, I've seen firsthand the damage social media can have on mental health,” said Senator Fetterman. “While social media can be a valuable tool for self-expression and connection, we need to establish clear boundaries. The Kids Off Social Media Act addresses the dangers posed by algorithm-driven content, which have fueled issues of addiction, eating disorders, and suicide among young people. By setting a minimum age for social media use and restricting algorithmic targeting, this bipartisan bill will help keep our kids safer and healthier.”

“America’s youth should be protected from the harmful impacts of social media and from traumatic online content during their most formative years,”
said Senator King. “The bipartisan Kids off Social Media Act would establish reasonable guardrails and set a minimum age for users of social media to protect our children from tech companies exploiting and manipulating the youngest Americans. It would also require schools to block and filter social media access on federally funded Internet networks. Our children and grandchildren deserve to grow up without the damaging risks of social media and this legislation will take meaningful steps to protecting our youth from these impacts.”

“Parents across the country are struggling to protect their kids from the harmful effects of too much social media. I’m proud to join Senators Schatz and Cruz in this bipartisan effort to enact some common sense guardrails for kids and teens using social media platforms,” said Senator Warner.


No age demographic is more affected by the ongoing mental health crisis in the United States than kids, especially young girls. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 57 percent of high school girls and 29 percent of high school boys felt persistently sad or hopeless in 2021, with 22 percent of all high school students—and nearly a third of high school girls—reporting they had seriously considered attempting suicide in the preceding year.

Studies have shown a strong relationship between social media use and poor mental health, especially among children. From 2019 to 2021, overall screen use among teens and tweens (ages 8 to 12) increased by 17 percent, with tweens using screens for five hours and 33 minutes per day and teens using screens for eight hours and 39 minutes. Based on the clear and growing evidence, the U.S. Surgeon General issued an advisory last year, calling for new policies to set and enforce age minimums and highlighting the importance of limiting the use of features, like algorithms, that attempt to maximize time, attention, and engagement.

To that end, the Kids Off Social Media Act would:

  • Prohibit children under the age of 13 from creating or maintaining social media accounts, consistent with the current stated policies of major social media companies;
  • Prohibit social media companies from pushing targeted content using algorithms to users under the age of 17;
  • Provide the FTC and state attorneys general authority to enforce the provisions of the bill; and
  • Follow existing Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) framework to require schools to block and filter social media on federally funded networks and devices.

Parents overwhelmingly support the mission of the Kids Off Social Media Act. A survey conducted by Count on Mothers shows that over 90 percent of mothers agree that there should be a minimum age of 13 for social media. Additionally, 87 percent of mothers agree that social media companies should not be allowed to use personalized recommendation systems to deliver content to children. Pew finds similar levels of concern from parents, reporting that 70 percent or more of parents worry that their teens are being exposed to explicit content or wasting too much time on social media, with two-thirds of parents saying that parenting is harder today compared to 20 years ago—and many of them cited social media as a contributing factor.

For a compilation of stakeholders in support of the Kids Off Social Media Act, click HERE.

The full text of the bill is available HERE.