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Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Munroe’s Bill to Protect Minors on Social Media Advances After Clearing Committee

The local lawmaker’s social media safety legislation that included input from three Bucks County students is now a step closer to becoming law.
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Pennsylvania House Bill 2017, introduced by Representative Brian Munroe (D-144) in February to address social media’s impact on children and teens, is a unique piece of legislation for several reasons.

The drafting of the bill included input from three Bucks County students, it will help make social media safer for teenagers and younger children, and the proposed law quickly cleared the House Consumer Protection, Technology and Utilities Committee on March 19, approximately 30 days after its introduction.

“We are one step closer today to helping to protect our children on social media as a result of this vote today,” Munroe said. “I look forward to the full House voting on this bill, which will hopefully happen shortly.”

Max Jin, Luka Jonjic and Dylan Schwartz were all students at Tamanend, a middle school located in the Central Bucks School District, when they met Munroe and voiced concerns about mental health issues tied to various social media platforms.

This wasn’t the first time Jin, Jonjic and Schwartz researched the impact social media has on mental health. The trio received an award from C-SPAN StudentCam in 2023 for their video, America’s Silent Struggle: Social Media’s Impact on Teens’ Mental Health.

All three students now attend Central Bucks High School South.

In January, the Mayo Clinic issued a report concerning the mental health of teens who routinely access social media platforms.

Some of the negative effects included:

Distract from homework, exercise and family activities.

Disrupt sleep.

Lead to information that is biased or not correct.

Become a means to spread rumors or share too much personal information.

Lead some teens to form views about other people’s lives or bodies that aren’t realistic.

Expose some teens to online predators, who might try to exploit or extort them.

Expose some teens to cyberbullying, which can raise the risk of mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression.

HB-2017 would require social media firms to monitor chats involving two or more minors and alert parents or legal guardians about potentially sensitive or graphic content.

Additionally, social media platforms would be required to enhance parental or legal guardian consent for individuals under 16 to open an account and send an alert if a child under the age of 16 attempts to create an account without consent.

Finally, it would prohibit data mining associated with users less than 18 years of age and allow for the deletion of that data.

“In many ways, social media has become an essential part of our daily lives, but its negative impact on our mental health is not fully recognized,” Jonjic said. “Through the passing of this bill, I hope that problems with mental health caused by social media can be prevented and that it gives us teenagers a space to safely express who we are.”

Jin echoed how the bill will ensure future safety online. “I believe the movement of H.B. 2017 out of committee is a symbolic step toward a brighter future online, and I am grateful that we now have a direct opportunity to ensure the safety and mental well-being of our fellow teens when they use social media.

The proposed law will help protect all children in the Commonwealth and is deserving of bipartisan support in both the State House and Senate.

“This legislation means the world to me, as it stands for the hope that kids who are suffering as I had are going to be protected online,” Schwartz said, adding that “it symbolizes the hope that other struggling teens can realize that there are people out there who care for them and want them to be safe.”

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Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in the Philadelphia area.

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