Assemblyman Herb Conaway has introduced a bill to have New Jersey join a handful of states implementing age verification laws for social media usage. The bill aims to protect young users’ mental health by requiring individuals to prove they are at least 18 or, for minors, to obtain parental consent before accessing social media platforms. It also proposes restrictions on online interactions between children and adults.
Conaway, who chairs the Assembly Health Committee, argues that the bill is a necessary response to the escalating youth mental health crisis in the U.S., citing the detrimental impacts of social media on young minds, including anxiety, depression, body dysmorphia, and suicidal tendencies.
“We have to get a hold of this,” Conaway said. “The government has to step in and act responsibly.”
His bill comes on the heels of U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy issuing a warning about the potential harm of social media on youth mental health.
Utah and Arkansas have already enacted similar laws, but if passed, Conaway’s bill would be the first such law in a Democrat-controlled state.