Re: “Protecting kids on social media — Texas House’s proposed age limit is a step forward,” Thursday editorial.
While some connect social media use with teen depression and suicides, evidence is unclear. The Economist noted, “If social media were the sole or main cause of rising levels of suicide or self-harm — rather than just one part of a complex problem — country-level data would probably show signs of their effect.” They don’t.
Underlying causes of depression and suicide are often much deeper for teens, best addressed by parents, yet some want to give it to government bureaucrats. The latest attempt is Texas House Bill 18, supported by your editorial board.
The bill would essentially ban teens from social media and force all to register online. It excludes YouTube by picking it as a winner with an educational provision.
Though well-intended, the bill would have many costly unintended consequences. Teens could lose benefits from connecting with family and friends and learning new things, have less information in a growing digital world and possibly choose less-desired activities.
Everyone registering for digital services reduces privacy and security. Texas should empower parents to decide for their kids — many of us may choose to keep our kids offline — not government bureaucrats.
Vance Ginn, Round Rock
Originally published at the Dallas Morning News.
Vance Ginn, Ph.D.