Republicans Issue New Ban On Children

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

( – A stringent bill aimed at severely restricting social media use among minors is on its way to Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, a known Republican who has previously voiced his reservations about the legislation’s approach to outrightly prohibit children under 16 from accessing popular social media platforms, even with parental consent.

The legislative journey saw the bill garnering overwhelming support in the House with a 108-7 vote, following a 23-14 approval in the Senate, which introduced amendments to the initial proposal from the House. These modifications are intended to alleviate Governor DeSantis’ concerns, particularly regarding user privacy, as mentioned by Republican Speaker Paul Renner.

The proposed legislation is designed to curb the use of social media sites that not only track user activities but also allow minors to post content and engage with others, highlighting features deemed addictive and potentially harmful. Proponents of the bill cite the alarming increase in suicide rates among young individuals, the prevalent issue of cyberbullying, and the risk of predators exploiting these platforms to target children.

Senator Erin Grall, a Republican and the bill’s advocate in the Senate, criticized social media companies for exploiting addictive mechanisms to detrimentally influence children on a large scale.

While similar measures have been contemplated in other states, Florida’s proposal stands out with its comprehensive prohibition. A related law in Arkansas faced judicial hurdles last August when a federal judge halted its enforcement, which mandated parental consent for minors wishing to create new social media accounts.

Florida’s supporters are optimistic about the bill’s resilience against legal challenges, emphasizing that the ban targets the addictive nature of certain social media functionalities, such as notifications and autoplay videos, rather than the content itself.

However, critics argue that the bill infringes on First Amendment rights and advocate for parental rather than governmental oversight of children’s online activities. Democratic Senator Jason Pizzo humorously suggested that lawmakers might as well propose legislation promoting traditional family values if they intend to regulate children’s upbringing.

The bill has garnered varied opinions from both Republican and Democratic legislators. Governor DeSantis acknowledged the potential harm social media can inflict on teens but emphasized the importance of parental involvement in moderating their children’s online presence.

Despite the debate, Speaker Renner is confident that the governor will sign off on the bill, given its consideration of concerns regarding user privacy.

Parents like Angela Perry from central Florida express ambivalence towards the bill. While recognizing the intention behind it, Perry, who delayed her daughter’s engagement with major social media platforms until she was 15, insists on parental discretion in determining their children’s readiness for such platforms.

The proposed legislation mandates social media companies to deactivate accounts suspected of being used by minors and to comply with requests from minors or their parents to close accounts, ensuring the deletion of associated data.

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