United States

Florida Bans Social Media For Children Below 14 Years, Parent’s Permission Required For 15-Year-Olds

Opponents argue it infringes on parental rights and constitutes government overreach. The bill has been considered in other states, but supporters are hopeful it will withstand legal scrutiny.

AP
Gov. DeSantis signed a bill that will ban social media for minors in Florida. Photo: AP
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Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida signed a bill on Monday that institutes one of the most restrictive social media bans for minors in the United States. The legislation, if it withstands expected legal challenges, will impose significant limitations on minors' access to social media platforms.

Under the new law, social media accounts will be banned for children under the age of 14, and parental permission will be required for minors aged 14 and 15. This measure represents a compromise from an earlier proposal that Governor DeSantis vetoed just a week before the end of the annual legislative session.

The bill, which takes effect on January 1, was championed as a top priority by Republican Speaker Paul Renner. Speaking at the bill-signing ceremony held at a Jacksonville school, Renner emphasized the need to protect children from the harmful effects of addictive social media technologies.

According to Renner, the developmental stage of children's brains renders them unable to recognize the addictive nature of social media and its potential harm. He asserted that legislative intervention is necessary to safeguard minors from these risks.

The initial version of the bill vetoed by Governor DeSantis would have banned minors under the age of 16 from accessing popular social media platforms without parental consent. However, a compromise was reached between DeSantis and Renner, resulting in the adoption of the revised legislation.

Similar legislation has been considered in other states, with Arkansas facing legal challenges over a law that required parental consent for minors to create new social media accounts. Supporters of the Florida bill are hopeful that it will withstand legal scrutiny, as it focuses on banning social media formats with addictive features rather than restricting content.

Renner acknowledged the likelihood of legal challenges from social media companies but expressed confidence in the bill's resilience. Governor DeSantis, also anticipating legal disputes, emphasized his commitment to upholding constitutional principles while acknowledging the recent setback of the "Stop Woke Act" by the appeals court.

Despite bipartisan support in both chambers, opponents of the bill argue that it infringes on parental rights and constitutes government overreach. Democratic Representative Anna Eskamani criticized the legislation, advocating instead for improved parental oversight tools and investments in mental health programs.

As Florida prepares to implement this contentious social media ban, the legal battle over its constitutionality and implications for parental rights is expected to intensify in the coming months.

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