HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Two Pennsylvania state senators are leading a bipartisan effort to protect kids and teens on social media, introducing legislation on May 5.

Midstate Republican senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York) and Democrat Vincent Hughes (D- Philadelphia and Montgomery) are leading the push. They say these protections are needed because young people’s mental health is suffering, and say social media is a huge part of the problem.

The two senators want to give parents more control over their kids’ access to these platforms. Hughes said social media, especially when it comes to young people needs “Much more parental involvement, much more parental engagement.”

“We want to empower parents,” Phillips-Hill said. “Parents need to know where their kids are and to be able to give them that guidance.”

The two lawmakers said kids and teens are facing a mental health crisis.

“They’re being exposed to a lot of things that they’re not prepared for,” Hughes said.

A recent CDC report found in 2021, more than 40 percent of high school students experienced “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness.”

The same report found that 10 percent attempted suicide, while 22 percent seriously considered it.

“Parents who’ve lost their children to suicide, parents who’ve had challenges with bullying, they talk a lot about the impact of social media,” Phillips-Hill said.

Senators Phillips-Hill and Hughes argue that social media has contributed to worsening mental health among kids and teens, and say that their new bill aims to limit those negative effects.

Under the bill, anyone under 16 would need permission from a parent or guardian to open a social media account. If they don’t get permission, their parent or guardian will be notified.

“These are children, not equipped with the powers of discernment, that’s what parents are for,” Hughes said.

There are questions around how the law could be enforced, especially if kids lie about their age when creating accounts. Hughes said there is technology out there to verify that.

“You can pretty much tell after a few clicks if someone is falsifying their information,” he said.

However, both lawmakers admit those details still need to be ironed out when it comes to enforcement.

“Are you eight years old, are you 18 years old? Those are some of the challenges we’re going to work through,” Phillips-Hill said.

Still, both senators agree they have to do something to protect kids.

“When I was a kid and something bad happened at school, you went home and you left that at school, but today with social media, that follows you all the way home,” Phillips-Hill said.

This bill would also forbid companies from mining data from anyone under the age of 18 and would also create a method for parents to sue social media companies for harming children

Currently, Phillips-Hill said the bill is unlikely to list specific social media platforms so that it can adapt to new ones.

“There’s always some new platform that’s coming into that space, and we’re going to need to make sure that we protect children regardless,” Phillips-Hill said.

Social media companies like Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, and TikTok have said there are protections in place for teenagers. There is even an Instagram Kids in development, though Meta paused development in 2021.

However, both senators say that is not good enough. The two hope to have a draft of their bill ready by the beginning of June.