Florida Legislature Passes Bill Banning Social Media Sites For Children Under 16

News & Politics

The Florida Senate passed a bill on Thursday that prohibits all children under the age of 16 from accessing some social media sites. The was immediately passed by the House and was sent to Governor Ron DeSantis to sign.

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DeSantis has expressed concerns about the bill regarding the issue of parental rights. During an appearance Friday in Pensacola, DeSantis said he would look at changes made by legislators to address the parental rights issue.

“So, we’ll be processing that today and probably through the weekend and let you guys know, very, very quickly,” he told reporters.

Earlier, DeSantis expressed the hope that the concerns of parents can be dealt with. “We can’t say that 100% of the uses are bad because they’re not,” DeSantis said at an Orlando-area news conference. “I don’t think it’s there yet, but I hope we can get there in a way that answers parents’ concerns.”

According to Fox News, “the bill targets any social media site that tracks user activity, allows children to upload material and interact with others, and uses addictive features designed to cause excessive or compulsive use.”

Supporters point to a rise in cyberbullying and teen suicides to justify the censorship. 

“We’re talking about businesses that are using addictive features to engage in mass manipulation of our children to cause them harm,” said the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Erin Grall.

Other states haven’t had much luck with restrictions on minors in their use of social media. In Arkansas, a federal judge blocked the enforcement of a law that would have required parental consent for a minor to create some social media accounts.

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Supporters in Florida hope that if the bill becomes law, it would withstand legal challenges because it would ban social media formats based on addictive features such as notification alerts and autoplay videos, rather than the content on their sites.

But opponents say it blatantly violates the First Amendment and that it should left to parents, not the government, to monitor children’s social media use.

It’s a creative attempt at censorship, I’ll give the bill’s proponents that. Unlike the Arkansas law that was struck down, the Florida law wouldn’t involve the parents at all.

Do we really want the government to look over the shoulder of our kids to see what they’re doing on the internet? Isn’t that the parent’s job?

“This isn’t 1850. While parents show up at school board meetings to ban books, their kids are on their iPads looking at really bad stuff,” said Democratic state Sen. Jason Pizzo.

Pizzo fancies himself something of a stand-up comic. “Let’s have a bill that encourages engaging with your children, cooking dinner, sitting at a table together, making eye contact, calling grandma to see if she’s OK once in a while.” he said. 

Who’s living in the 1950s now? It’s a wonderful goal to strive for but the days of “Ozzie and Harriet” and “Leave it to Beaver” are long gone. Doesn’t this Democrat know why fast food joints are such big business?

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Angela Perry, a mother from central Florida, said she understands the rationale behind bill, and that she and her husband didn’t let their daughter onto any major platforms until she turned 15. But she believes it should be up to every parent to make that decision based on the maturity of their children.

“Whatever happened to parental rights?” Perry said. “You are already selecting books my child can read at school. That is fine to a certain extent. But now you are also moving into their private life as well. It’s becoming intrusive.”

I am all for anything that protects children as long as it doesn’t interfere with the parent’s right to raise their kids as they see fit. I agree with the mom. This bill is intrusive and DeSantis should veto it.

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