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Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley wants to ban kids under 16 from all social media

Senator-elect Josh Hawley gives his victory speech in Springfield, Mo., on Tuesday. He defeated Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill.
Charlie Riedel
Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley introduced a bill to ban all kids under 16 from social media sites.

Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley says he wants to take aim at "Big Tech" by raising the minimum age requirement to use social media from 13 to 16. But how likely is it that Congress will act?

Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley last weekintroduced a billthat would ban kids under 16 from using social media.

Right now, the minimum age to sign up on most social media sites is 13. Hawley’s proposed legislation would raise that age to 16.

His bill would also require users to prove their date of birth by submitting government-issued documentation. If social media companies refused to comply, parents would have the right to sue.

“Children suffer every day from the effects of social media," Hawley said in a statement. "At best, Big Tech companies are neglecting our children’s health and monetizing their personal information. At worst, they are complicit in their exploitation and manipulation. It’s time to give parents the weapons they need to strike back."

Kansas City Star reporter Daniel Desrochers told KCUR's Up To Date on Tuesday the bill has received criticism partially because the ID requirement would give social media companies even more access to kids’ private information.

"Tech moves so much faster than Congress moves," Desrochers said.

Desrochers also said the likelihood of this bill passing is slim to none.

“The purpose of this bill is so Sen. Hawley can say, ‘Look, this is what I proposed to address this problem.’ And then there's little action that follows after it," Desrochers said. "It's a way to get a conversation going and it's a way for him to kind of campaign on this ideal of him being hard on social media companies.”

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9, my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. Reach me at steve@kcur.org or on Twitter @stevekraske.
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Claudia Brancart is an Up To Date producer for KCUR 89.3. She graduated from Pitzer College in Los Angeles where she majored in World Literature and Studio Art. You can reach her at claudiab@kcur.org.
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