In an interview with NBC News, Hawley detailed some top lines in his agenda including to mandate social media companies verify the age of their users, to provide parents a right to demand that tech companies delete their kids’ data, and to commission a wide-ranging congressional mental-health study on the impact social media has on children.
“For me, this is about protecting kids, protecting their mental health, protecting their safety,” Hawley said. “There’s ample evidence to this effect that big tech companies put their profits ahead of protecting kids online.”
Since his election to the Senate in 2018, Hawley has made scrutinizing the tech industry core to his political brand and has pushed for breaking up the tech giants and curtailing the reach of TikTok.
Recently, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy recommended that parents keep their 13-year-old children away from social media, even though these platforms allow them to enter.
In Murthy’s opinion, minors should not enter these virtual spaces because they are still developing their personality and the biases of such environments could harm them.
“Based on the data, I think 13 is too early; it’s a time when it’s really important to reflect on what they think about their own self-esteem and relationships,” Murthy said.
Several studies have warned about damage these platforms can make to infants, such as the medical journal JAMA Pediatrics, which warned that checking social media more regularly can alter students’ brain chemistry.
Other studies showed that excessive screen time can affect brain development and in young children, for example, leads to poorer literacy skills and the ability to use expressive language.