Florida Blocks Children Under 14 from Using Social Media

(ReliableNews.org) – Studies have shown that social media access can be dangerous for children. The US surgeon general has repeatedly spoken out about the importance of parents limiting their kids’ access. Florida has passed a bill taking the decision away from parents.

On March 25, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) signed HB 3 into law. The legislation prohibits kids under 14 years of age from having social media accounts. Social media companies are also required to delete the accounts of underage users. Kids aged 14 and 15 would have to get approval from their parents. The bill also requires websites that have adult content and explicit images to add age verification to their sites to ensure those entering are over the age of 18.

The Florida law would punish social media companies that don’t abide by the restrictions, penalizing them as much as $50,000 per violation.

The governor issued a statement saying, “Social media harms children in a variety of ways” and claiming the legislation gives parents a greater opportunity to protect them.

Last year, the US Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy issued an advisory warning against the harmful impact of social media. According to the advisory, 95% of kids aged 13 to 17 reported using social media. The platforms appear to be having an adverse impact on the mental health of children, and they are highly addictive.

Florida isn’t the first state to pass the ban. Courts in some of those states have blocked the laws from taking effect over concerns that they violate the First Amendment. NetChoice, a trade group representing TikTok, Meta, Snap, and others, has filed suits against the other laws.

The Washington Post reported NetChoice called the Florida bill “unconstitutional” and said it would “protect exactly zero Floridians.” Carl Szabo, the organization’s general counsel and vice president, said the law would force Floridians to “hand over sensitive personal information to websites or lose their access to critical information channels.” He said it’s a clear violation of the First Amendment.

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