Behind the movement to ban kids from social media

Mental illness is the issue. But so is the First Amendment.

Social media
(Image credit: Illustrated/Getty Images)

It's going to be more difficult for Arkansas teens to share selfies on Instagram. The state's Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R) this week signed a law requiring young people to get their parent's permission before starting a social media account, ABC News reports. "While social media can be a great tool and a wonderful resource, it can have a massive negative impact on our kids," Sanders said. Utah has already passed a similar law, and other states may soon follow.

Why is this happening? There are real worries about teens' well-being. "There is substantial evidence that American teenagers have experienced a serious decline in their mental health over the past few years," Mike Bebernes writes at Yahoo. And there is a growing — sometimes heated — debate about whether social media sites are the culprit. New York magazine quotes psychologist Jean M. Twenge: "The sudden, sharp rise in depressive symptoms occurred at almost exactly the same time that smartphones became ubiquitous and in-person interaction plummeted." For social media critics, that doesn't seem like a coincidence.

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