Australian premiers have proposed barring millions of children from using major social media platforms. 

The states are looking at changes to protect minors from online harm, calling for higher age minimums on platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. 

Currently, these platforms require users to be at least 13 years old, but the proposed changes could raise this limit to as high as 16.

NSW Premier Chris Minns supports a national approach but has expressed readiness for his state to act independently if a federal minimum age of 16 cannot be quickly established. 

He was moved to push for these changes after observing the negative impact of social media on young people, including his own three sons. 

He described social media algorithms as “obnoxious” and designed to keep children engaged with their devices instead of interacting with family and friends.

Queensland Premier Steven Miles has called for the minimum age to be set at 14. 

He says there is a clear link between social media use and mental health issues in young people, noting an increase in distress among children and teenagers. 

His government advises parents to limit social media access for children under 14 and to supervise their use as they grow older. Queensland Health will launch a new campaign next year focused on promoting youth mental wellbeing.

Victoria’s Premier Jacinta Allan has not specified a minimum age but advocates for higher limits and national consistency. 

South Australia is also investigating potential social media bans for children under 14 and requiring parental permission for those under 16.

Health Minister Mark Butler says the federal government is working on determining an appropriate age limit while a verification trial is completed using recent budget funding.

These state-level efforts follow international examples. 

Spain and several US states have implemented age restrictions on social media. For instance, Florida bans social media accounts for children under 14 and requires parental permission for those aged 14 and 15, while Texas requires parental consent for anyone under 18.

The push for stricter regulations in Australia coincides with an ongoing investigation by the European Union (EU) into Meta-owned platforms Facebook and Instagram. 

The EU is assessing whether these platforms violate the Digital Services Act (DSA) by failing to protect minors. 

The investigation focuses on concerns about addictive algorithms and insufficient age verification methods.

Meta has stated its commitment to providing safe, age-appropriate experiences online and looks forward to cooperating with the EU's investigation. 

The company says that this challenge affects the entire industry and highlighted its decade-long effort to develop tools and policies to protect young users.