Florida Lawmakers Approve Ban on Social Media Use for Children

(RepublicanNews.org) – Legislation to keep children under the age of 16 off social media has been approved by Florida’s House and Senate and only requires Governor Ron DeSantis’ signature to bring it into effect. DeSantis, however, has not yet confirmed that he will approve it and has expressed some concerns over the content and reach of the bill.

The legislation demands that social media sites delete accounts belonging to any minor under 16 years of age. It also requires that they use third-party software to verify that a user is aged 16 or over before allowing them to create their account. The bill is aimed at sites and apps that have potentially addictive aspects, such as notifications, videos that automatically play, and infinite scrolling. It does not, however, block sites whose primary function is the sending and receiving of direct messages such as emails.

Proponents of the bill say that it will help to protect children from the harms of social media, with one of the main sponsors for the bill, Sen. Erin Grall (R), claiming that social media companies were manipulating children by use of “addictive features”. With a recent survey finding that a third of children aged 13-17 years use the most prominent social media apps “almost constantly”, the bill’s supporters believe such a ban will help to keep children safer from cyberbullying, obsessive use of social media, and even predators who may use the platforms to target minors.

While the bill had support from Democrats and Republicans and passed the House vote with a majority of 108-7, there have been many vocal critics. Sen. Jason Pizzo (D) complained that while some parents have protested against books they believe to be inappropriate for children being provided in public schools, their children may still be looking at “really bad stuff” on their iPads. He then likened the bill to an attempt to parent other people’s children, a concern echoed by other critics who say the legislation does not respect parental rights and could even violate the First Amendment.

While many of his Republican colleagues have given their support to the bill, DeSantis has been more hesitant to approve it, citing concerns about parental rights and privacy. He also pointed out that there already exists a federal law banning children under 13 from using social media platforms, yet this is not generally enforced.

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