Florida closer to banning minors under 16 from using social media

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The downside of the internet and social media on kids and teens has been widely reported.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Social Media

Wednesday, the House passed HB1 which bans minors under the age of 16 from having a social media account. Both Republicans and Democrats have given it overwhelming support, despite controversy.. (WPEC)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. The widely reported downside of the internet and social platform on kids and teens is that it can have negative effects.

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Widely reported are the downsides of the internet and social media on kids and teens.

Florida lawmakers are just two weeks into their new session. Recently, they passed a bill making pornography harder for kids to see, and now they’re targeting media apps like Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram.

Social media has an undeniable grip on today’s society. It’s partly for that reason Florida lawmakers are looking to stop kids from using it.

Wednesday, the House passed HB1 which bans minors under the age of 16 from having a social media account. Both Republicans and Democrats have given it overwhelming support, despite controversy.(WPEC)

Wednesday, the House passed HB1 which bans minors under the age of 16 from having a social media account. I shot the ball. (While this statement may be controversial, it has received overwhelming support from both Republicans and Democrats.)

“These dopamine hits are so addictive. It’s like a digital fentanyl, and even the most plugged-in parent or attuned teen has a hard time shutting the door against these addictive features,” Representative Fiona McFarland, R-Sarasota, said.

Minors would be prohibited from creating social media accounts under the proposed bill, regardless of parental approval. It would also require companies to get rid of existing accounts.

Social Media Companies

“Social media companies themselves know how addictive their technology is. Despite their best efforts, content about human trafficking and child pornography keeps slipping into the algorithm,” McFarland said.

The downside of the internet and social media on kids and teens has been widely reported.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

See also: Retrial continues for woman accused of hitting, killing 10-year-old girl

Some parents agree social media is too much for children.

“Even as adults, I don’t think we’re even prepared for social platform. For children, I think it’s too, I don’t want to say vulgar but it’s really out there for them,” a Palm Beach County mom told CBS12 News.

Some lawmakers opposing the bill argue it would violate the First Amendment.

“I do agree that there’s something that we should do to protect children. But what we have to do is put in guardrails, not a wall and the bill just goes a step too far, in my opinion, and I respectfully urge you to vote no,” Representative Michael Gottlieb, D-Davie, said.

The law would also fine social media companies thousands of dollars for violating the rules. while some question how it would be enforced.

Meta

Meta (META.O), the parent company of Instagram and Facebook, opposed the legislation. Usually referred to as HB1, saying it would limit parental discretion and raise data privacy concerns.

“HB 1 would require each new social media user, from a 13-year-old in Miami to a 73-year-old from Boca Raton. Provide possibly sensitive identifying information, such as a driver’s license. Birth certificate to a third-party organization to verify their age.” Meta’s Caulder Childs told the House’s Judiciary Committee at a hearing on Jan. 17.

The downside of the internet and social media on kids and teens has been widely reported.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Meta says it supports federal legislation, opens new tab for online app stores to secure parents’ approval for downloads by teenagers younger than 16.

The Florida measure does not identify any internet companies by name.

Instead it defines a social media platform as an online forum that tracks account holders’ activity by letting them create user profiles, then upload content or view the content or activities of other users and interact with, or track, them.

Among the defining social media functions highlighted by the bill are “addictive, harmful or deceptive design features” or those that induce “an excessive or compulsive need to use or engage with” the platform.

But the measure exempts websites and applications whose predominant function is email, messaging or texting, as well as streaming services, news, sports and entertainment sites, along with online shopping, gaming and academic sites.

Utah became the first U.S. state to adopt laws regulating children’s access to social media in March 2023, followed by others, such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Ohio and Texas, according to a legislative analysis prepared for the Florida bill.

It said numerous other states were also contemplating similar regulations.

In 2015 the European Union in 2015 passed a law requiring parental consent for a child to access social media, the analysis added.

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